I know the plans. Love, God.

I know the plans. Jeremiah 29:11. written by Dawn Michelle Michals. @dmmwrites

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I once was involved in a single-parent ministry at a mega church in the Dallas area. And, this was our scripture. The scripture quoted each time we gathered. The scripture quoted each time someone had a crap day to let us know that God has us, that God has plans for us, to lift our spirits and help is remember we are not alone.

God has great plans for us. But, are they always easy to remember?

When your kid won’t go to sleep and it’s 1am and you have to work in the morning?

When illness strikes a family member and you are thrust into the caregiver role when in all reality you want to be camping or reading or anything else.

When your beautiful baby is diagnosed with ADHD, learning disorders and intellectual disabilities even though you didn’t do any drugs, drink alcohol or dive off bridges during your pregnancy.

I didn’t.

But, she did.

Well, I’m not sure about the bridges.

You see, I’m talking about the “biological” birth person of my child. Mother is a valuable term to me, and it takes more than birthing a baby to be called one in my opinion. Dad and Father are valuable terms too. I think you know what I mean here.

God knows the stories and the destinies when each of us are born. In Ephesians 1:4-5 it tells us, “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.”

Before God created the foundations of the world, he created you in his heart. How does that make you feel? Big? Significant? It should. You are.

You are mightily important in God’s scheme of things. He predestined you for greatness. He planned out all the details of your life the way he wanted it to be long before time began. For you to walk and be in his will.

“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. ~Ephesians 1:11-12

God created you in his heart. He planned your timing. He planned your parents and your lineage. He planned the very second you would come kicking and screaming into this world sucked out of our 98.6 degree haven and thrust into a world with bright lights, new sounds, and these people who think you are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

And, he planned every second of my daughter’s life, too.

But, one thing he doesn’t plan out – Our free will.

Now comes the sticky part…

If God plans out all of the great and fabulous things he wants for us, does he plan out the bad too?

No. God is love and wants what’s best for us.

God didn’t plan for my daughter to be adopted. However, he did know that I needed a daughter and this little girl would need a home becomes of the free will of man and woman he blessed her with. Children are a blessing, whether you “deserve” them or not. Children are predestined, pre-formed and pre-determined by our Creator. Every child matters. No child is ever a mistake. Remember that today. No person is a mistake. Every single one of us had a destiny planned out before time began.

It all comes down to what we do with it.

What will you do with your destiny today?

I’m too Busy – 3 Ways to Stop and Breathe

Oh, how I like to be busy. I like to have my schedule chock full of fun things that I am doing. Between church and Special Olympics events for my daughter, we had something planned every night of the week followed by tournaments on Saturdays and church activities on Sundays.

And, it was killing us. Both of us.

We were too busy.

Until COVID-19 hit us all like a tsunami.

I’ve changed a lot of things in my life since the pandemic began. And, I’m grateful for the time it has allotted me to make much-needed shifts in our lives. I have learned to be still and breathe.

Well, I’m better at it anyway.

Today, I want to share with you the three things I’m focusing on to help me be still and not leap into the “busy trap.”

First off, Busy ≠ Important

Let’s get back to the novel coronavirus. I don’t see what’s so “novel” about it, but that’s for another day.

My daughter and I were at first devasted with the rest of our fellow Americans when everything was shut down. I already homeschooled her so that didn’t stop for us, but when our church had to close its doors and our sports activities came to a screeching halt, we did feel the initial impact of social distancing did to our world. But after a few days, when my child’s anxiety level decreased drastically,  . Do you have this lie swimming around your head saying that the busier you are, the more important you are? Let that thing drown! Let we wash away like yesterday’s eyeliner. Being busy doesn’t equal anything but being busy. Does your busy take you away from reading a book to your kids? Does being busy take away from a romantic evening with your partner? Does being busy restrain you rather than propel you forward in your dream?

I urge you to take some time to look are your calendar today, and seriously ask yourself, “What can go?”  

Good things happen when you’re still.

In Psalm 46:10, God tells us, ““Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” Being still is vital to being able to listen. Growing up, I yielded to society. I was always listening to music. I always had the TV on. I always had noise on to distract me.

But now, I mostly drive in silence, and the TV—in my part of the house anyway—is off unless I have something specifically that I’m going to sit down and enjoy. When I’m still and in the quiet, I can chat with God. The best part? I can listen without distraction for the next steps He has for me. I want to be able to hear everything God has to tell me.

One aspect of being still is something a lot of us don’t want to deal with—waiting. We want what we want right now. Most of us (including me) are conditioned that the longest we want to wait is for a few seconds for a download or for a few minutes for our food to appear in a drive-thru window.

But, powerful things happen in the “wait.”

Isaiah 40:31 say:

“but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
    they shall walk and not faint.”

And, Psalm 27:14 says:

 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

Waiting and being still are powerful adversaries working for us to show us what God has for us. Be in the “wait” today and be still and see what happens.

Channel your inner “Phoebe”…kinda

For years, I’ve found myself teetering between and “Phoebe” and a “Monica.” Do you know what I mean? One moment I am elbow deep in cleaning the fridge; gloves on, bucket of water and baking soda. Later on, I’m elbow deep in to-go containers, shoving them to the side as I search for the last known packet of ketchup in the back of the fridge to put on my fries. Then I slam the refrigerator door shut for “another day.”

Where is my middle ground?

I know that neither one is the best option. I’m either all or nothing. I’m that person that can’t watch “Hoarders” without cleaning and tossing things in boxes to donate. And I can’t watch Monk for fear of being so “Monk.” I fight my own inner tendencies, but they all come down to one thing:

I am not in control.

And, you aren’t either. Does this scare you? It does me! I like control. I like everything in its place. I like to color-code my time map of each day so I know what I will be doing every second in the name of productivity. (It actually helps me, so if you’d like to know more about it, let me know. )

I am a Time-map junky. But, as hard as I try, there are always shifts in my day. My daughter needs me (She’s top priority.) Our dog needs to go outside. And, those inevitable trips to the bathroom in the most inopportune moments.

I am not in control.

So, I breathe. And, remind myself that God is. Proverbs 19:21 says. “The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.” (NRSV)

James 4:13-16 tells us:

13 “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.’ 14 Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.’ 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil.”

God is in control.

I need to lean more toward my inner “Phoebe” at times and just go with the flow. God has all my plans laid out anyway. There’s nothing that a day planner, a pen and an elaborate scheme of highlighters can change.

I pray these three things help you on your journey. I pray that you see what is above at the right hand of God, and I pray that He will be with you always.

I will leave you with this scripture today. Be blessed!

Isaiah 41:10

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Don’t Be Ashamed – Where does shame fit in with your faithfulness to God?

Red square with purple lines under the words Don't be ashamed. Psalm 25. This is a blog post by Dawn Michelle Michals.

I’ve started reading the Daily Office over at The Mission of St. Clare every morning. Yesterday, the Psalm reading maybe me stop in my morning practice and write it down.

Specifically verse 3. Here it is from Psalm 25.

“Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
    let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.”

Shame. It scares me. Does it you? I hate to be ashamed. Actually, I hate to be embarrassed. Is that the same thing?

In fact, I have social anxiety because of it. I never want to be called out, degraded, fall down, have snot on my face, have anything someone could shout I have out of place.

And, I would never do that to anyone else.

My friend sent me a TikTok a few days ago of a speech Paul Harvey gave in 1965. Here is a link to the transcript. There are numerous videos on YouTube. If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s mesmerizing, powerful and hits you in the gut.

At least it did for me.

In it, he says, “I would confide that what’s bad is good, and what’s good is ‘square.’ 

Shame.

In verse 3, the psalmist writes, “…let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.”

How is it that today, what was considered “bad” has no shame? What once was considered bad is now free spirited, complete and whole? What once was considered bad is now publicized on all social media and TVs and shown to us repeatedly without an after thought of how it will affect how minds, bodies, and children?

It’s a shame.

You see what I did there?

Now let’s talk about this when it comes to worshipping God.

Are you ashamed?

Jesus says in Matthew 10:33, “but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

The devil wants us ashamed, beat down and scared. He comes to kill, steal and destroy. But, Jesus came for us to have life with abundance.

When it comes to following Christ, the devil wants nothing more than for you to be ashamed. He wants us embarrassed to serve God. Do you find yourself changing your conversation for others? Do you stop talking about God in certain situations because it could affect you negatively?

It is now more important than ever that we know God’s Word and stand.

We can’t let the devil take over. He doesn’t win. Read Revelation. Our God wins. Stay true to your faith, my friends. Stay close to God. His word says that if you draw closer to him, he will draw closer to you. (James 4:8)

I know it can be hard. I am living through this with you trying to decide what to say and how much to share about my Christian faith. But, I will not allow the devil to squash my dreams. I live on the Word of God and his promises.

I will wait for you, Lord. And, I will not be put to shame.

Psalm 25

Prayer for Guidance and for Deliverance

Of David.

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
    do not let me be put to shame;
    do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
    let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all day long.

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
    according to your steadfast love remember me,
    for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

11 For your name’s sake, O Lord,
    pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who are they that fear the Lord?
    He will teach them the way that they should choose.

13 They will abide in prosperity,
    and their children shall possess the land.
14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
    and he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
    for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart,
    and bring me[a] out of my distress.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
    and forgive all my sins.

19 Consider how many are my foes,
    and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 O guard my life, and deliver me;
    do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
    for I wait for you.

22 Redeem Israel, O God,
    out of all its troubles.

Romans 12 – Marks of a True Christian

There’s a segment of Romans entitled “Marks of a True Christian.”

It stood out today to me in our Lectionary reading, so I wanted to share it with you.

One thing about scripture: It holds its own. I have nothing to share or say or preach about this passage. I only want to share the Word of God with you, and get out of the way while Him speaks to you through it.

Have a blessed Sunday, my sweet friends.

Romans 12:9-21 (ESV)

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

Love one another with brotherly affection.

Outdo one another in showing honor.

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Live in harmony with one another.

Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.

Never be wise in your own sight.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

~~~~~
https://bible.com/bible/59/rom.12.9-21.ESV

This is the Day

A square with purple and red color swirls. A circle offset to the left reads, "This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24. A blog post by Dawn Michelle Michals. @dmmwrites on social media

Today is a day like no other. Why?

Because it’s today.

Okay, I know how cliche that sounds but I want to remind you, today, that this is the only day you have.

Matthew 6:34 says:

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

God doesn’t want us to worry about tomorrow. He wants us to be present; in the moment. He wants us to think and be in today.

Today is very special. It is our time here on earth. And, by golly when you think about it, it sure is short. Our time here prepares us for our eternal life in Heaven. Our eternal destiny. It sounds kinda wackadoo. I know. Especially if you are new to this whole Christ-follower thing, or you don’t know Jesus at all yet. But, God came to earth for you. He came to earth so that he could know us and teach us. I kinda equate it to this…

So you know when a top CEO dons a disguise and goes to the lowest position of his or her company to see how it’s really run? Remember that show? I know it’s farfetched but stay with me here.

Jesus came to be our great rabboni–our great teacher. He left his position in Heaven as the Right Hand Man of God to come to earth to grow and love and teach us, specifically about the heart of His Dad, our Father. He not only came to teach us, but he also came to die for us as a sacrificial lamb taking on all our sins and erasing them from the books. Can you imagine? All of our sins were placed on him. Sins from people born two millennia later who he didn’t even meet in person while he was here in the flesh.

Yet, he did it anyway. He could have chosen a different way. He even asked our Father to “let this cup pass from me” if it wasn’t God’s will. But, he did it. He stayed true to course. Even though it was scary.

He took his today.

What does God want you to do today? Sit with Him and ask Him. He has lots of good things to say.