In today’s podcast, Stasi Eldredge of Wild at Heart Ministries sits down with pastor and author Melanie Boudreau to talk about the unexpected life. Naturally, we pray and work towards the life that we hope for, but how do we respond when God gives us something other than what we planned for? It's hard to surrender our self-life and step out of our comfort zone, but with our identity deeply rooted in Christ, there is no limit to what he can do with us and through us—even when life is challenging.
Podcast: The Unexpected Life
Today is my mother’s birthday. She died last April. She would have been so proud of me. Mama, happy birthday in Heaven with Jesus. I feel certain He will tell you about this! Eat all the cake and ice cream you want; nobody is counting calories there. 🥰
I had one job. To get my grandchildren to school on time this morning. The careful list of instructions left by my daughter spelled it out clearly.
“Leave the house by 7:15 am.”
I am clever. I remember the ordeal a simple task of loading the car can be. We stepped out the door at 7 am sharp with the idea fifteen minutes to load would be ample. Silly me. It’s been too long. I should have started at 3 am.
The Boston Terrier escaped when the door opened, which was no big deal because she self-potties and runs back to the door. Unless there is a raccoon in the yard. She took off like a bat out of hell and disappeared into the woods.
First the children went in hot pursuit— but to no avail. They were impressed how their skittish dog penetrated the forest with no reserve. Then it was my turn. Into the woods I went.
Looking up, I spotted Olive’s obsession in the branch over my head. Leash in hand, eventually I corralled our domesticated crazed beast and coaxed her out of the brush and back into civilization. Enough adventure for one day— these kids must get to school!
Buckled back in, I press the ignition.
“Key fob not found.”
I am holding the fob in my hand. This is a push button ignition. Ugh!!! Ok, there is an emergency manual key hidden in every fob — I extract it and look for the insertion slot.
Dashboard. No. Under the cup holder. No. In the storage bay. No. Dash again. No. By my knees. No. Ugh!!! My grandson Brave mentions the penalties levied against him for arriving late.
Quick thinking, my beloved searches google “Mazda Fob Reset” and gets the vehicle to respond to the fob. Off we go! Thank you, Grandpa!
I do not know my way around Nashville. But I am quick with my GPS and equipped with the address pre-loaded. Only upon arriving at the first spaghetti junction, the options the program presented me did not match the road signs. Each road may have 4 names, but only a local can supply the names not present on the sign overhead. And I am no local.
Pulling off in heavy traffic, I switch programs and the alternate app chooses a route actually represented by signage. How was I to know it was a fifteen minute diversion to make a loop back around? And loop we did.
I prayed for a miracle- a teleportation wonder where somehow we pull into car line right on time. That miracle did not happen. My grandchildren were late to school this morning, my first day behind the wheel of their parenting, entrusted with their precious lives.
But a miracle had taken place, over a number of years actually. The miracle of being able to remain calm under pressure, the miracle of not accepting the shame offered me after failure. The miracle of seeing the humor in circumstances real time, even when the outcome feels like it makes me look bad. The miracle of being present and loving life and being connected to the God of the universe who is smiling at me as I navigate loving well in the midst of stress.
Rescue comes in the form of a Person— through Divine camaraderie and empowerment. Today, in the midst of your own story, receive His provision and watch the same miracles unfold.
I hear the garbage truck coming through our cul-de-sac. I’m on the back porch enjoying a cup of coffee with a house guest. Is it Tuesday already, trash day? I feel a momentary panic. I know the height of the trash pile waiting in the garage.
In Colorado we cannot put our trash out the night before. Bears, raccoons and skunks will feast if we do, and decorate the street with our refuse. I rush to the window to check. Sure enough, my beloved has already put the trash to the curb. Once again.
We decided early in our marriage to show our love by trying to out-serve the other. But he is hard to beat. Already he has cooked my breakfast, brewed my coffee, put out the trash and headed to his home office to serve through his employment.
Today I’ll make the bed, if he hasn’t already done that too, and paint the master bathroom to create a space of beauty he will enjoy each day. This is how we think.
"Well, what if my spouse isn’t serving me? Then what?"
That is the beauty of “Christ in me”. He loves first.
“We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
Over time, we responded to His kindness towards us. Perhaps over time, your spouse will respond towards you. But even if they do not, you have loved your Creator well by showing love first to one He loves.
And that is worth the effort.
We are in the middle of a remodel, a huge undertaking. I admit, most of our stress has fallen upon the shoulders of our incredible, capable contractor. He insulates us from the battles he faces daily on our behalf. Even so, circumstances require adaptability and flexibility, both for our own peace of heart and mind, and to be clients who don’t create torment for our contractor who does everything possible to serve with excellence in our Covid-disrupted resource-challenged consumer world.
This morning I ran across a photo I took in Myanmar back in 2014. The country is currently in civil war. My friend Janet posed so it would not be obvious in this beautiful honor-shame culture, that I was really wanting to capture their drum set.
Look at it closely.
This was their only drum set and was used during worship services. Do not let its appearance fool you— the skilled drummer who sat behind it got sounds suitable for any stage. This photo is a beautiful perspective shot on life and worship and ministry. The treasure lies not in our equipment or facilities, whether church or our homes. The Gold is in relationship — our union with God and expression of love and life in overflow to others…family first and then to the world.
A nice drum set is a lovely thing to own. A home that expresses our own aesthetic is a tremendous blessing. But our true energies must be prioritized for passion-fueled pursuit of Connection, in the flow of our labors. This will give us the perspective we need when prices sky-rocket and materials are just not available. It makes acquisition a playful adventure, and ingenuity a game we joyfully play with Holy Spirit as we slow down to address the challenges of mundane assignments associated with making a setting our own, or really, in accomplishment of anything on our lengthy to-do lists each day.
Making a Run for It
I checked the weather report. That is important. We live in Colorado and this state is second only to Florida for lightning strikes. I do not choose a high precipice to pitch a tent when rain is in the forecast. Tonight chance of rain, hour by hour, was zero.
And then after we went to bed the winds came. And the skies lit up. And the rains came, high on my perch, camping with my grandson, overlooking the city. It was glorious.
And it was incredibly dangerous.
I texted Chuck. “Please keep an eye on the current lightning strikes map online.” Brave was asleep. It was cold, raining, wet, slippery, steep and windy. And dark. Very dark. Do we need to make a run for it? We are literally at the highest point of a crest. Sitting ducks in a lightning storm.
A grandma and a child.
This afternoon Brave and I shared a beautiful conversation about level setting and recognition things do not always turn out as we expect. That is what turns an outing into an adventure. And we expected adventure and agreed in advance we would take surprises in stride.
I was calm as the winds swirled and the skies flashed and crashed. I woke up Brave, smiling. I equipped him with a flashlight, gave him directions, explained we were ditching everything but a few essentials like the car keys and my pillow and his bear and our hiking poles— we got this.
I did not tell him as we descended in the blackness of the night I was also flashing the terrain to check for reflective eyes announcing a nocturnal predator. This is bobcat/bear/coyote/mountain lion territory. But I did remind him to stay close behind me as I led the way.
I have intercessors, people who love me and pray for me. Three were awake. Three were praying. And I was in total peace, a peace my heart could convey to my grandson. I recognized it as the same hunkering down peace I felt when I landed in Hong Kong in the midst of the riots, with my hosts stuck in a neighboring country leaving them and me stranded.
Peace in the midst of the storm. That is Who He is.
Christ in me.
You can have Him too. And when you must also make a run for it, you will not be alone.
Come and Drink
My body needs water. I cannot get away from its daily demands. In my kitchen I gulp a few sips to down my supplements. I grab a bottle from my garage on my way out the door. My coffee has water in it. Surely that counts?
My routine consumption rarely approaches the eight to nine glasses a day recommended by health professionals. I run a constant deficit, staying on the verge of dehydration.
Water is continuously available to me. It is canned and sparkling in my fridge, Colorado-fresh and free-flowing out my spigot, melodious in the creek by my home. Majestic in the expanse of wind-churned peaks across the surface of a nearby lake. Thunderous and powerful over the falls. Thoroughly drenching from the skies. There is no lack of water in its availability to me.
Even so, I barely quench my thirst when there is nothing else as refreshing or satisfying as water.
I awoke this morning to Holy Spirit’s invitation to recognize His offer to drink deeply. My thirst is not met by His ubiquitous nature; it is met by my intentional consumption of Him. Not a sip here and there, not a gulp along with supplements, not my morning hot brew to awaken me for my day. His offer is saturation, steeping, ingesting, filling myself with Him. On cool days and scorchers alike.
I need Him.
This morning I met a friend for breakfast. Because there is still snow and ice on the roads, I took my husband’s four wheel drive. My car has push button ignition, and smarts that would never allow me to lock my keys in it. I realized too late my keys were hanging in the ignition of our locked SUV.
I bummed a ride home and kept my appointments in my rear-wheel-drive car that lives in the garage in cold weather. One of my dates was with God, parked on a hillside along an undeveloped street overlooking the city to pray. I was quickly reminded why my vehicle lives in the garage.
I got stuck.
Two cars stranded on the same day.
Do you ever feel like that? The words we say don’t come out right; the ways we tried to help blow up on us. We got harsh with the children. The things we touch, break. We strand both cars on the same day. Old tapes engage reminding us how stupid we are, how incapable, how unlovely.
But it is a lie. A perfectly timed lie, attempting to align with circumstances to lend the message an air of authenticity. It is a lie designed to separate you from the all encompassing love of God for you, unconditional love.
I am writing to remind you of your beauty. Today. No matter what happened, no matter how you failed, or what you did not accomplish. You are loved.
“Love is a safe place of shelter...”
1 Corinthians 13:7 TPT
What Fare Will You Feast Upon?
I am writing to Americans. Have you ever heard the expression or seen the meme, “Not my circus, not my monkeys!”? This post-election administration transition has been a bizarre circus. Unfortunately, these are my monkeys. Whether you lean left or right, I hope you recognize the troop of howlers belonging to you. It is your circus, too.
I am receiving dozens of messages daily outlining what is happening next; most are missives claiming authoritative sourcing. You tube videos. Instant Messages. Emails. Group texts. All promises of a memorable grand finale.
Saturday night I was leading a baptism service and during that hour, I had thirty-two texts blow up my phone from well- intentioned beloveds all wanting to be ready for what is coming next. False narratives. Censorship. Spin. Global intrigue. Crime. Hypocrisy of the irreligious and religious alike to staggering degrees. This is not the same dog and pony show we used to watch with popcorn in hand — our stomachs turn and our appetites are lost as we are served pink fiberglass spun up like cotton candy.
Our nation is in crisis.
As a people who belong to God, whether left-leaning or right, there is no need to reel. There is no need to grasp for the inside scoop, or to be in-the-know. On Earth, only those at the top of this scramble for power really know what is happening. And the masses (those of us who consume what each opponent needs us to believe) produce the momentum behind the thunderous blows of their theatrical performance under circus lights.
This is the fare I want to feast upon:
Daniel 2:21 (NLT)
Not even world governments can thwart God’s purposes!
Micah 6:8 (NIV)
We know what we are to do, how we are to behave in any setting or circumstance!
Psalm 2:1-6 (ESV)
It is no contest. The Most High rules. He is not struggling in the Heavens over world events. Plotting against the Kingdom of God is in vain, on a global scale, not only on a national scale.
Just as Daniel proclaimed at Belshazzar's feast (Daniel 5), God hands kingdoms to whom He chooses, and not always to righteous successors. The Most High answers to no man.
Psalm 89:14-15 (NIV)
Acclaim God and be blessed. Walk in the light of His presence. This is our path forward, whether the elephants are rampaging through the tents, or the donkeys are kicking and braying.
My eyes are staying fixed on Jesus and His Kingdom.
Be blessed, too. ~
Good News for You
On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, I slipped into the restroom at the Dallas Fort Worth airport between flights. After washing my hands, I noted the custodian standing nearby, so as is my custom, I slowed down to make eye contact, smile, and thank her for her labors. However, when my eyes connected with hers, I became startled by the depth of sadness and grief she could not conceal. It was so unnerving, I had to catch my breath, quickly slipping past her after a cursory greeting.
Scenarios flooded my mind— who has she lost? What does this year represent for her? Is she alone this Christmas? Does she have a disabled child? Is she a caregiver? What are her fears? I found myself wishing I had an extra hundred dollar bill tucked away I could slip into her hand, but I did not. And her pain seemed untouchable, almost cheapened by suggesting mere cash could allay it. But I was grasping, wishing I had a way to help. I kept walking, haunted by the glimpse into her soul. I do not always know what to do, say or even pray.
This is a hard year for many. Too hard.
As I post my holiday greetings and pictures of family, I am acutely aware many are struggling, some feeling utterly alone.
Many are aware God appeared on earth clothed in flesh, his coming providing mankind a model to live by. Others may realize Jesus came as a man without sin in order to pay the price for the wrong each of us have done, qualified to do so by His own perfection. He makes forgiveness possible. A just God requires accountability; a loving God bore the price for it Himself on a cross.
But few recognize the purpose of Jesus’ miraculous appearance was to restore us to God relationally, so we could live in union with our Creator, a good, good, God.
Union. Bliss. Intimacy.
These are not words we typically hear applied to the Christian faith, and yet, this is the purpose and goal of Christ’s work upon the Earth: to destroy the works of the evil one (who labors to isolate man from God), to speak the Truth of reconciliation and connection with God, and to restore mankind to His side as companions. He calls us friend!
This is the Good News.
No matter what circumstances we face, He will never leave us or forsake us. He is so committed to us, His people are inscribed on the palms of His hands.
I thought you might need some good news as we end out 2020 and enter a new year, not alone after all.
Happy New Year!
What’s Wrong with the Church?
Stop right there. We are asking the wrong question. How about what is right with the church? Think back to all the ways your church experience was life giving for you. The people you met whom you love to this day. The kindness you encountered there, the generosity, the times you genuinely experienced God.
While we may feel it our responsibility to condemn the church and its leadership for all the ways it has failed us or others, perhaps our role could be to spot all the ways our church got it right, and verbalize those, openly celebrating the demonstration of God through His church? He is the One with the right to judge, and even so, “God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it!” (John 3:17 TPT) Jesus puts us in right relationship with God, our connection with Him transforming us from the inside out. Because each of us are in process, so is the church.
Our churches, either as institutions or as a collective of Believers, certainly do not get everything right. As parents we have all had ample occasions we cringed over things our children said or did, but we never abandoned our love or admiration for those same children. We correct them, maintaining strong faith in who they are as majestic little human beings worthy of esteem.
Scripture speaks of the washing of the water of the Word of God. (Ephesians 5:26) Indeed, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV) “Being equipped for every good work”, is in expression of good hearts!
Jesus modeled for His disciples washing one another’s feet. I cannot wash your feet without getting low in humility first. With attentive love, in celebration of your good heart holding in my own heart all the ways you have “got it right”, I can be truly in position to apply the cleansing word to you. Bowing, let us join the Psalmist in prayer,
Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit,
Without Your revelation-light, how would I ever detect the waywardness of my heart? Lord, forgive my hidden flaws whenever You find them. Keep cleansing me, God, and keep me from my secret, selfish sins; may they never rule over me! For only then will I be free from fault and remain innocent of rebellion. So may the words of my mouth, my meditation-thoughts, and every movement of my heart be always pure and pleasing, acceptable before Your eyes, my only Redeemer, my Protector-God. (Psalms 19:12-14 TPT)
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Two of our three children have Tourette's Syndrome as well as a few other co-morbidities, inherited neuropsychiatric disorders. I'm still happily married, love life and want to share encouragement bringing hope, humor and insight into the process of raising children who are different.