Book Excerpts

Live Life in Full Bloom

Thank You
Thank You Gift
About the Author
Foreword
Introduction
Give It Your All
White Iris
Toilet
Deep Roots
God’s Love
Lord’s Prayer
Wonderful Creations
Bloom
Dance and Celebrate
Fog of Confusion
Snow Angels
Teachable Moments
Peppermint Patty
Who Are You?
Grandpa Said No
Flowermonia
Nothingness
Under His Wings
Seriously
Father-Daughter
Rosie
Hair Style
Bathroom Remodel
Life if a Journey
Does He Notice?
Partnership
Ground Sparrow
Generations
Sad Memory
Get Out of Your Box
Be Strong and Immovable
Long-Distance Friends
Why Me Lord?
The Cleaver Family
Rotisserie
Sweet Aroma
Garbage Dump
Encouragement
Fire of Blessings
Catch Your Dirt
Play-Doh
Childhood Confession
Bluebirds and Mimosa Trees
Disgusting Tasks
Gnarly or Smiling
Rules of Grace
Old Friends
Overstuffed
Dare to Dream
The Fall and the Rise
Break the Silence
The Donkey
The Storm
Zip-Line
Happy Anniversary
Sandcastles
Follow Christ More
The Fire
Sorry Grandma
The Key
The Rock
Lost Cell Phone
Shattered Window
Reflection
Leah’s Dedication
Pelican
Social Media
Donnie
The Breeze
Flea Market
Bottle of Wine
Deception
What’s Your Handicap?
Give Everything
Raindrop
Email Blunder
Glitter Stones
Wild Flowers
In the Year 2525
Out on a Limb
Thunder
Killdeer
Abundance
Dirty Truck
Tough Love
Zucchini Crisp
Dullbozer
Snuggles
Leap of Faith
Artesia Geyser
The Move
Combine Repair
Underfoot
Dale
Difficult Decisions
Memorabilia
Compassion for the One
Conclusion—New Beginnings
Resources

So Who is Mary Rodman and why should you make these devotionals part of your daily walk with God?

I believe the best answer to both these questions is best stated by Mary herself:

“I am Mary Rodman, who was saved by God’s grace. I am a simple, beautiful, humble, gifted, disciple of God, whom He chose to write my crazy stories, intertwine them with scripture and share with the world.” (Taken directly from the devotional within these pages, “Who are You?”)

Mary’s passion for life and living according to God’s Word is self-evident in each and every story she weaves…Stories from her own humble daily life with family and friends.

Her divine gift? “Seeing” teaching moments in everyday mundane events. She then pivots them into humorous, divinely inspired devotions…each designed to capture your heart and bring you joy as you’re gently reminded of God’s grace in your life.

I’ve been privileged to share the final part of this journey with Mary. It’s been an honor to help her publish this book and guide her to include special gifts for you. Be sure to visit her website and pick them up here.

http://maryrodman.com/BookBonuses

And think of Mary when you’re looking for an inspirational speaker, or a facilitator for your next weekend retreat…you’ll be glad you did!

Diane K. Bell/ Publisher-in-Chief

LegacyLanePublishing.com

We recently remodeled our master bathroom. One of the first steps in the project was the removal of a six-foot-wide mirror from the wall. It now leans against our bedroom wall, but it has been rotated. Instead of being six-foot-wide, it is now six-foot-tall which gives me a totally different perspective than before. We do not intend to leave it there permanently yet I have grown accustomed to the benefits of a tall mirror.

This mirror gives me the opportunity to reflect upon my physical appearance. I can see an entire outfit from head to toe and decide if it looks appropriate for the occasion. Sometimes I stand in front of the mirror with a selection of jewelry to make a decision. Unfortunately, I also see the aging process taking place quicker than I would like. But according to Job 12:12 “Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.”So, if aging gives me wisdom I will take it all in stride.

What my mirror can’t show me is my inner beauty, my wisdom, or my soul. No man-made item can show these items only a sovereign God has this ability. Our souls are a deep part of us which can only be strengthened through a relationship with Christ. We often neglect our own soul even though the condition of our soul will determine our outlook on life.

The Biblical wisdom referred to in Job is not wisdom you and I just stumble upon. Our relationship with Christ directly impacts our wisdom, which in turn affects the condition of our soul. Much like your relationships with your spouse, friends, or co-workers, your connection with Christ needs nurtured. You have to continually work on your relationship to make it stronger.

In his study, Soul Keeping[i], John Ortberg says, “We live in a world that teaches us to be more concerned with the condition of our cars, or our careers, or our portfolios than the condition of our souls. Maybe because a dent in a soul is more easily concealed than a dented car. Maybe because a dented soul is harder to fix. After a while, the dents pile up, and they stop bothering us. We hardly notice. One dent more isn’t going to make much difference.”

Just like the directional change of the mirror gave me a new perspective of myself, Jesus is the only One who can give us a new perspective on the condition of our soul. Ortberg goes on to say,“I am responsible to take care of my soul not just for my own sake. The condition of my soul will affect the people around me, just as when my body is sick. It can infect others who get too close.”

On a scale of 1-10: 1 your soul is in utter turmoil and 10 your soul is in excellent condition and connected to God, what number would you select?

In order for us to care for our souls we need to have a healthy relationship with Christ. Solomon tells us “The Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6).”Even though the Lord grants us wisdom, we have to seek and desire it. A relationship with God is no different than a relationship with a loved one. It can wither, be stagnant, or grow and bloom.

My first book, Bloom Where You’re Planted, was a set of devotions written to help you see God in your everyday life. Live Life in Full Bloomis the same principle. It’s not about the mutation of a purple iris to a white one, or a baby bird which startled me, or my brother-in-law’s new toilet (all devotions in this book). The stories are simply a means to see God in every aspect of our lives. In return, our relationship with the Lord will grow. This growth will give us a healthier soul. A healthy soul will help you focus on the promises of God and bloom in your ministry.

In Live Life in Full Bloomevery devotion will be different. Some will contain the scripture, others will only share the reference. The length will vary and the platform will change. The variety leaves the challenge up to you. You have the choice to make. Do you desire to know God more? Will you take the relationship further and dig deeper each day to fill a void in your soul? Or do you allow the moment to pass and simply whisk it away with the other clutter in your life? As you read each devotion, allow the message to resonate in your heart. Ask Jesus to open your heart to its significance or a passage of scripture. I pray you will rate the condition of your soul a little higher on our scale of 1-10 by the time you read the conclusion.

[i]ORTBERG, JOHN. SOUL KEEPING. S.l.: BLINK, 2014.

At a recent event known as the Walk to Emmaus I was blessed to be on the leadership team and help lead discussions with some wonderful ladies. On our last day, we asked one another about our favorite Bible story. For me it was so hard to choose. You have the story of Esther. The Samaritan Woman. The woman who touched Jesus’ robe. Peter walked on water. How do you choose just one? I admit I don’t remember which one I selected, but I remember Iola’s favorite. It was the widow woman’s offering.

This short story in the Bible wasn’t even on my top ten list, so when Iola mentioned this story it piqued my interest. I have always felt that Jim and I are good financial stewards, so these few verses never made much of an impact. I always read them with pride in my heart. Give financially, yep done, checked off my list of good deeds. What an attitude, because the story is about much more than financial stewardship!

While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box.Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. “I tell you the truth,”Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them.For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” Luke 21:1-4

I read these verses several times over the next couple of days, and studied the footnotes in my Bible. God calls for us to give our all. Not just financially, but in every area of our lives. I am now convicted every time I read, “For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”Jesus calls us to give all of our time to serve others. All of our strength for the trials in life. All of our compassion for the hurting. All of our gifts and talents. In every area of our lives, we should take intentional steps to give all we have to Christ.

In these verses, Jesus isn’t concerned about a money issue. He is concerned about a heart issue. The widow wasn’t blessed because she gave financially. She was blessed because she gave from her heart. She reminds me of David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). She was a woman after God’s own heart. She wasn’t a woman who simply gave monetarily, she was a woman who invested in the kingdom of God with all of her heart, all of her mind, and all of her soul (Matthew 22:37).

Dear Lord,

I ask your forgiveness for my foolish pride and for the time I spend on worldly items, which do not point others to Christ. Change my heart Lord, so I desire to serve You with my whole heart, my whole mind, and my whole soul. Help me to use my gifts and my talents within your church, and the ministries which bless You. Lord give me strength to go above and beyond what I feel is possible each day, because with You everything is possible. Please help me grow stronger in my faith and become a Christian who desires to see others as You see them. Make me more like the Widow Woman and turn me into a woman who is after God’s own heart.You have asked for my best Lord, and for today, I give You my all.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The flowerbed beside our driveway is full of iris. One variety has a small, dark purple bloom. Today when I looked at all the beautiful purple flowers, I did a double take. Right in the middle of the purple iris was a single white iris bloom! I have never planted white iris at my home, so I considered it a gift from God. The white bloom stood out amongst all of deep purple flowers. It was so radiant and I quickly snapped a photo to show a couple of my friends.

As I scurried about my evening routine, I reflected on the white flower and looked at the picture numerous times. The white flower is a symbol of so many biblical truths. Color mutation—God is the creator of everything. Yesterday, today and tomorrow. He created the white iris from the genetics of a purple one. White—the color of purity. Jesus was the only pure person to walk this earth, and with His purity comes an opportunity for us to have eternal life. Single flower—let your light shine. Be who Jesus has called you to be in this world. Even when you are the only white flower in the crowd, show it boldly. My white iris beautifully illustrates this scripture.

In the beginning the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
John 1:1-5

 

The gospel of John helps us understand that the Word, or Jesus, existed from the beginning. God created everything through Him. From the mountains to the seas, the flowers to the birds, He created it all. He is still in the creation business today, just like He created a white iris from purple ones. Just as the white iris is a new creation, we are a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

You often see portraits of Jesus dressed in white. White is a symbol of purity. He was sinless, without flaw, and perfect in every way. Through His perfection, He provided redemption for our sins. His death and resurrection,“brought light to everyone” (John 1:4b).The white iris reminds me of the old hymn, “What can wash away my sins, nothing but the blood of Jesus.[i]”This perfect Lamb of God washed away our sins so we may be pure and white, just like the white iris.

Once you accept Jesus as your Savior, the Light is part of your life and the darkness slowly fades. Difficulties will come your way. The loss of loved ones. Financial struggles. Divorce. Rebellious children. Crying babies. However, no circumstance you face is in total darkness. He is the true Light in a dark world. Christ is your White Iris in a flowerbed of worldly problems.

There is the twist in the story though. The next day I had two white irises. The third day three and this morning I have white iris blooms in several places. This is an example of the glory of Christ! When you shine your light in a dark world, you show the love of Christ. Soon others are lead to His amazing grace and Christians multiply like the white irises in my flowerbed!

As you scurry about your daily routine, focus on the White Iris called Jesus. He is still and will always be in the creation business. He is the Light of the world. His Light will shine bright in the darkest moments of your life. So, continue to celebrate your salvation and shine your light for Jesus!

[i]https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/history-of-hymns-nothing-but-the-blood

During our recent visit to Florida, my brother-in-law Bumpy was proud to show off his new toilet. Prior to our arrival, their friends had come to visit and stayed at their home for about a week. On the second day of their visit, the gentleman announced, “Bumpy you need to fix this toilet. It sits too low.”

As is typical of Bumpy off to the hardware store they went to purchase a new tall toilet. Not only did he purchase a new toilet, but he also purchased a special toilet seat for his guests. Why a special toilet seat you ask? All because his friend’s wife didn’t like the seat which came with the toilet. By evening, the toilet had been replaced.

My reaction to this situation was one of shock. I wanted to say, “Are you kidding me! They are guests in your home, and they have the audacity to complain about the height of the toilet and request a special toilet seat? How ungrateful!”

Not Bumpy. He never felt they were rude or ungrateful in any manner. He shared the toilet upgrade story with a chuckle and a smile on his face.

How many of us look at life with a Bumpy attitude? We often allow our “right to be offended” control our emotions. We get upset when someone crosses the line, or is inconsiderate, ungrateful, or just simply rude. Bumpy could have easily become angry at their request, but he chose to look at the positive side of the situation. A new toilet and special toilet seat. Plain and simple. No reason to be offended.

Paul challenges us to live a life which allows us to overlook the flaws of others and to live life with a Bumpy attitude.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:12-14,17(Emphasis added)

One of the hardest lesson in life is to allow for one another’s faults and offer forgiveness. The toilet lesson taught Jim and I to have a Bumpy attitude in life. When one of us gets upset or offended by someone’s actions the other one says, “remember the toilet.” Which simply means, it is trivial and unimportant, so let it go and see the good in the situation.

These verses remind us to model Christ with our words and our actions. It isn’t always the easiest attitude to take, but it is what we are called to do. Next time you are offended by someone, say to yourself, “remember the toilet” and have a Bumpy attitude in life.

Bloom Where You're Planted

I like to call them God-incidents. You know, those moments where you feel the presence of God in a powerful way during your everyday activity, or perhaps it’s when you’re having a difficult time in your life and someone unexpectedly contacts you to see how you are. Mary has a gift for looking at these God-incidents in her life, interlacing them with scripture, and putting them down on paper.

Mary and I met several years ago at a spiritual renewal weekend called, “The Walk to Emmaus,” and have served together on several more of these weekends. It was during one of these “Walks” that Mary shared one of her writings with me; one of her God-incidents. Mary shared with me she had several more if I would like to read them. I was deeply touched by what she had written and how she related scripture to the events. I and several others encouraged her to continue writing and put the writings together in a book. I’m glad she listened and followed through.

One of my favorites happens to be “Bird Poop.” Yes, you read right. Mary’s husband, Jim, challenged her to write a devotion about bird poop and she did just that. She related how we step into those unexpected problems in our lives and we feel like we are in the midst of bird poop. I’ll let you read the devotion for yourself to see how Mary has taken those God-incidents in her life, related Biblical stories and scripture to them, and woven them into the wonderful book you now hold in your hands.

When you finish reading I hope you will embrace Mary as a friend and come to see similar God-incidents in your life as well. I am proud to call Mary my friend and look forward to sharing more with her in the future.

Pastor Kathy Reiff

“Bloom Where You’re Planted” is a group of stories about my life and some of the lessons God taught me along the way. Life has so much to offer. Many of us wish there were only good times, but if there weren’t trials in life, when would we grow? My prayer is that you will see Christ woven throughout the stories and my life. You will find an assortment which includes: Childhood memories, parenting, travels, country living, farm life, and the joys of grand-parenting. Our journey on earth offers so many twists and turns, and I always try to see God’s lessons in the little things.

I find joy when a harvest is plentiful or a vacation view is breathtaking. Times like these bring me peace and great reflection upon the graciousness of Christ. At the end of the day I can rest in God’s arms meditating on verses such asPsalm 4:7–8 “You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.”

Sometimes life offers us sorrow and pain. Though walking through the difficulties of life can be trying, it is during these times that we grow the most. God didn’t promise that all our days would be filled with joy, but He did promise to always be with us. “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world” (1 Peter 1:6–7).

Solomon, in his wisdom wrote Ecclesiastes 3:1,For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”  This verse is true for each and every one of us. Life is filled with everything from unspeakable joy to great sorrow. The devotions which follow will show a glimpse of my life and the wonderful Hand of God as He has helped me set deep roots of faith, even in the rocky soil of life. I thank God for both the blessings and the trials in my life, for without both, I would not be where I am today. Firmly grounded in Christ and blooming wherever God plants me.

I pray that the words which follow, will also help you bloom wherever God has plants you.

At the age of eighty-five my mother, Mildred Conklin, was faced with a very tough decision. The doctors discovered she had a large aortic aneurism just above her heart. Her choices: Risky open heart surgery or take her chances that it wouldn’t rupture. The odds weren’t good with either option! My mother said, “I don’t have a choice. I’m not done living for my great grandchildren yet.” She opted for the surgery and was moved to a larger hospital in Columbus where surgery soon followed.

As Mom was about to go into surgery the nurse told her that she needed to remove her wedding band. Mom said, “No, you can just tape it. It has never been off my finger.” The nurse explained that Mom had to remove the band because it would burn her finger if they had to shock her. Mom reluctantly agreed, but told Dad that he had to remove it, because he was the one that put it on her finger sixty-six years ago. So, Dad removed the wedding band and gave it to me.

Following a seven-hour surgery, Dad was escorted to see Mom in recovery. The rest of us were winding down the hallways to a waiting room. Suddenly Dad and his escort appeared. Dad wanted to put the ring back on Mom’s finger, and I still had it in my purse. He put the ring on her finger but it was once again removed due to the swelling in her hands. Three days later, and upon Mom’s request, Dad permanently put the wedding band on her finger once again. What a true testament of love and commitment!

The band is worn and tattered. After sixty-six years of marriage the gold is much thinner than that of a small paperclip. It is so fragile and no longer quite round. There is nothing beautiful about it to the eye, but great beauty lies within. It represents hard times, good times, hard work, raising a family and all the trials of life. It is a symbol of their commitment to their marriage vows. Vows which were taken and upheld to the highest standard.

Just as my parents are married and committed to one another, Christ asks the same of us. Many times in the Bible we are referred to as the bride of Christ. He desires a covenant relationship with each of us. One such example can be found in Hosea 2:19–20 (NASB).

I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,
And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the Lord.

Can you hear God calling you into a love relationship with Him in these verses? Just as the gold band represents commitment to my parents, God asks us to be fully committed to Him. It is a lifetime commitment to walk with Him daily. We will face trials, but when we are devoted to Christ, He will strengthen us.

Trust in the Lordand do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.(Psalms 37:3–5)

Commitment. It can be a short-term commitment, maybe a few days or weeks to complete a task. Like my parents, it can be a sixty-six year, death-till-we-part commitment. But a lifetime, loving relationship with God will be like no other commitment you will ever make. He will lead you and cover you with grace during times of failure. Please make that promise to the Lord today by praying, “Yes Lord, I love you with all my heart, and I trust in You. I will follow wherever you are leading me today and always. Amen.” And, oh, the wonderful places He will take you, once you give yourself to Him wholeheartedly.

It amazes me how God’s Word continually speaks to my heart. He knows exactly what I need to hear and when I need to hear it. During my Bible reading this morning, a verse spoke to me. I have read the passage before, but today it became a verse of great comfort, one which shows a very compassionate God. All of us have been through difficult times in our lives and have shed many tears along the way. I’m sure you have felt comfort and compassion from friends and family during some of your difficulties. But did you realize that Christ can feel your pain and sorrow more than your friends and family?

As I have grown in my Christian walk, I have learned that God set me apart when He formed me in my mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5). I understand that He has every hair on my head numbered (Matthew 10:30, Luke 12:7). But I never realized God feels my pain and sorrow and collects my tears.

In John 11:35it says Jesus wept.This verse shows Christ’s compassion and humanness.  He felt the same pain Martha, Mary, and the others felt over the death of Lazarus. Jesus was mourning with them. Feeling their pain. But Psalm 56:8shows us His compassion in a deeper sense. It says, You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all mytears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book(emphasis added).

Christ is so compassionate that He keeps track of your every pain and sorrow. Maybe it was a skinned knee as a child. God wiped away your tears even though you didn’t understand it at the time. Or maybe you have recently shed tears from the loss of a loved one. God has those tears in a bottle! Maybe you have cried over a broken relationship or a broken friendship. God has felt your pain and recorded your pain in His book. What an amazing, compassionate God!

But in the midst of your sorrow, remember the compassionate God was also called El Shaddai by the Hebrew people. El Shaddai means God Almighty or the God who is sufficient for the needs of His people.Our sorrow is all part of His greater plan for our lives. Your pain today may lead to greater strength tomorrow. So let God catch your tears as you focus on the cross. May you rest in His loving, compassionate arms because El Shaddai holds your future in His hands.

Have you ever had one of those moments in life, where you think maybe you were temporarily possessed by Satan or something? You just wish you could undo everything that just happened in the last thirty minutes of your life. Wouldn’t it be great if you could edit your life just like you edit a document? You could highlight the moment, and press delete! Poof—Gone! Unfortunately, life just doesn’t work that way.

One of those moments in my life involved a spoon. It seemed to be my weapon of choice this particular day, funny as it may seem. Earlier in the day, a fellow had treated my teenage son very disrespectfully, including accusations and verbal obscenities. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first incident. He was known for treating others in this manner, including my son when he was younger and played little league baseball.

Something just snapped in me that day. It had been a very long week at the county fair and I was exhausted. It was the last night of events. I was setting up a dinner for the buyers at the Junior Fair livestock sale, and I had borrowed a very long handled spoon from a nearby booth to stir lemonade. Every Christian value I was ever taught vanished. I found myself pointing the spoon in the man’s face, defending my son’s honor! I literally yanked a cell phone out of his hand, to make sure I had his undivided attention. I invaded his space you might say—to make sure he was as intimidated as my son had been earlier in the day.

Due to my mistake, I had to suffer the consequences for my actions. Those consequences were missing my other son Ryan receive an award for his outstanding work in 4-H. You see, apparently you shouldn’t point spoons at people who might call the sheriff. No, I’m not a convicted felon, but I did miss the ceremony due to the sheriff’s need to question me. I had actually been accused of hitting the man with a spoon, which was untrue.

So why did I react in this manner, rather than having a stern Christian conversation with him? The first thing that comes to my mind is that I didn’t pray first. I was simply an upset mother on a mission to defend her son. I should have been a Christian mother, taking her petition to God. Philippians 4:6says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”I should have been counting my blessings, and asking God for the guidance to handle the situation at hand, and not handling it myself.

Fortunately, God does forgive our sins and Luke 24:47says, “There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.” But God actually commands us to do even more, in Matthew 5:44, Jesus commands us to “Love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”I have learned that one’s unconfessed sin can make for a very bitter and ungrateful heart, but confession and forgiveness creates a clean and thankful heart. A heart which is able to be molded into a servant for Christ.

Points to Ponder

  • What incident from your past, do you wish you could highlight and delete?
  • Have you either forgiven or apologized to those involved? Remember to pray for those involved as well.
  • Have you sought God’s forgiveness and asked Him for a clean and thankful heart?

Several years ago, my son Matt went on a mission trip to Venezuela through the college he was attending. While he was there, part of his work included physical labor in unbearable heat. This past year, my brother-in-law Bumpy went on a mission trip to Honduras and experienced similar conditions. He was loading wheelbarrows with gravel in temperatures between 120–130 degrees. Having come from Ohio where the summer highs are between 90–100 degrees, you could say they were feeling the heat. Matt says, “It brings a whole new definition to the word thirst.”

When the two of them were comparing notes, Matt recalled exactly how he felt. He remembers saying to God, “You called me to do your work and I’m giving it my best shot. Couldn’t you work with me a little and at least turn down the thermostat?”

Though I can’t relate to the heat exhaustion they were feeling, I can relate to the comment. There have been many times in my life when God turned up the thermostat just a little too high! The most recent example happened just this week. In the past few months I have committed to write a devotional book. I also committed to being the Lay Director for the Walk to Emmaus in May for our Emmaus community. Both tasks will be stretching, detail oriented, full of Bible study, growth and prayer. But sometimes along with the personal growth there are trials and circumstances which are out of our control. Problems which make us question God but ultimately build our strength.

Saturday our tractor and a piece of farm equipment were being transported down a state route from one field to another. It suddenly started leaking oil and the check engine light came on. Unfortunately, the driver Stan was on a stretch of road with hills and curves and there was nowhere to pull over. You just don’t park a tractor and equipment on the shoulder of the road. As he continued looking for an opportunity to pull off, he lost all steering control of the tractor, and was just along for the ride. He slowed the tractor down, rode it through the ditch between two poles and a road sign. The equipment was off the road only by inches when he came to a stop. Blessings—oh yes! Most important, no one was hurt. In addition, the equipment he was pulling was not damaged in the process and nothing was rolled over on the uncontrollable ride through the ditch.

Later that evening, I found myself thinking thoughts similar to Matt’s from so many years ago. “You called me to do your work and I’m giving it my best shot. Couldn’t you work with me a little and at least turn down the thermostat?” First of all, who knows what the expenses will be to fix the tractor. Second, my husband is away on vacation and I don’t want to call and give him the bad news! He works so hard and he deserves at least a few days of enjoyment. I was quickly reminded of a very common scripture.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3–5 NIV)

As if reading these verses wasn’t reminder enough that God is in control, I also remembered the talk I would be giving during the Walk to Emmaus. The title is “Perseverance.”

Our family persevered through the heat in South America. I persevered through the weekend and withheld the information from my husband so he could enjoy a few days of relaxation before bearing the news. My husband and I will persevere through any expenses we may endure to repair the tractor. I’m sure this won’t be the last trial in our lives, but together with God’s help we will persevere through it all. It’s funny how God can turn up the thermostat to build our character, our hope and strengthen our relationship with Him.

So, when life turns up the thermostat and you lose your steering, just persevere.