1 Difference makes a difference in making decisions

Finding our way in life is no small business. Destination is usually determined by many small steps, instead of just one big leap. Then again, there are times when a big decision begs to be made and we liken it to sky diving or setting sail or exploring a new country. I’m not sure if we’re about to leap or on the thresh hold of many small steps, but Jeff and I are staring change in the face. We want to do it well, without any obstructions to hearing God’s voice or seeing doors open, and so we’ve come away to a quiet mountain.  Literally.

How can we be confident in life when our course is unclear?

Decision Making

When we were in India, we spent a lovely morning at the Taj Mahal with our team. We were thankful for the cool feel of the marble and the merciful breezes waltzing in from the river. Everywhere we looked, it was as if a box of 64 crayons stood around us as school girls and women of all ages toured the sacred site in brightly colored cotton dyed in every shade imaginable.

India

Just as the air began to rise in waves from the walkways, we began our journey back to Delhi. The language barrier prevented us from asking the van driver if we would be taking the long scenic route or the shorter highway route. Before long, it became clear that we were not only on the long route, but we were lost and stopped in gridlocked traffic. He was sweating.

Before long, we were all sweating. The air conditioner stopped working, and surrounded by trucks, opening windows did no good. Our water bottles were warm and nearly empty as heat stroke began knocking at the van windows. We were at the mercy of a driver we didn’t know, couldn’t communicate with, and had no power to change our circumstances.

How is finding our way in life any different than being hot and lost somewhere in India? When going through transition or staring a major life decision in the face, it’s easy to feel like we felt in India:  vulnerable, unsure, confused, frustrated, worried, and sick. There are times when we just don’t have what it takes to cry out.  You may suspect you’ve been tricked, betrayed, or abandoned. You might not feel like anyone would hear if you did cry out, and you only see your circumstances going from bad to worse. Only one thing makes a difference when life’s course is unclear and decisions must be made.

Our driver is divine, and we can trust our decisions to Him. He is all-knowing, even if we can’t see beyond our immediate needs. He is acting for our best, even if we don’t know all He’s doing. He is listening and speaking to us, for He invites us to communicate with Him. He has determined our destination, asking only that we follow Him.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” ~ Psalm 32:8

An old song is often sung at camp retreats, missionary commissionings, and revivals. Emotional responses last about as long as an ice cube on a hot day in Delhi, but these time-tested lyrics are the song of a thoughtful, serious decision:

  • Lead me Lord, I will follow.
  • Lead me Lord, I will go.
  • You have called.
  • I will answer.
  • Lead me Lord, I will go.

If we’re in a place of decision making, we have a choice. We can trust our future to human reason … and feel the fear that comes from being at the mercy of a driver we don’t understand, who doesn’t have our best in mind, and who is ultimately powerless to fulfill promises made. Or we can trust the divine driver. He is the merciful one who has the power to lead us to our promised future if we follow Him.

This one difference makes a difference when making decisions.

At the right time, the divine Driver will make the course He’s charted for us clear.  If we’re making decisions, we can count on that.

 

By Julie Sanders

9 keys for decision making in marriage

When was the last time you decided to help your “helpless” mate?  You know, when you’re sure he’s on the wrong track, and you have no choice but to take over decision-making “for the good” of you & your husband? After all, a wife may find herself in a situation on occasion where her husband just isn’t heading in the “right” direction. What’s a girl to do?

No wife is neutral when it comes to her husband’s reputation, and no woman is without influence when it comes to making decisions in a marriage. We approach decision making together, but the buck stops with our groom. How does a helpmate help her man make decisions?

Dirty Decisions in Delhi

We unlocked our hotel room door at 3:30 am in Delhi. After being up for about 36 hours in 4 airports and 3 countries, all we wanted to do was take a shower and go to sleep. A quick attempt at a shower revealed the floor of our stall was broken and unattached from the walls, meaning I had to balance in the shower to keep from sliding into the hole This was hard to do while avoiding the cobwebs, so my shower was brief. I stepped out to find myself in a large pool, since the water drained out the broken shower bottom and into the bathroom. I dried off and headed for bed, only to realize the stained sheets were filled with hair … not ours! “I don’t think this room hasn’t even been cleaned,” (I’m super observant at 3:30 am) I stated,”and I think you’re going to have to ask for another room in the morning,” I concluded to my equally tired husband.  (I’m also not at my sweetest at 3:30 am)

Jeff coaxed/begged me (with the slurred speech of a very sleepy man) to come to bed. I tried to take up as few inches on the sheets as possible, hoping my man would hear from God and do what I wanted him to do. (After all, it was a MINISTRY trip!) Instead, he just wanted to sleep. He also wanted me to sleep. He decided to do nothing. He wanted me to help him by allowing God to divinely (this is what it took, folks) put me to sleep too. He wanted me to be satisfied. (He wanted me to be quiet!)

Couples navigate many decisions in married life. It could be a small decision like restaurant choice, landscaping, weekend plans, or a dirty hotel room. It could be a big decision like a career change, relocation, or discipline of a child. Jeff and I are in a season of making big decisions. Perhaps the hotel room in Delhi was a reminder to me of bigger decisions at hand and those to come. The principles of decision making vary little based on how little or big the decision is to be made.

Decision Making

I remember 9 keys when I’m deciding how to respond to Jeff’s decisions:

9 keys for a wife’s decision making in marriage

  1. God hasn’t asked me to be silent
  2. God has asked me to speak with the fruit of His Spirit
  3. God hasn’t asked me to be the leader of my home
  4. God has asked me to put myself under His order
  5. God has not asked me to be answer for the fruit of our marriage
  6. God has asked me to walk with Him in any circumstance
  7. God hasn’t asked me to complain
  8. God has asked me bring my burdens to Him in prayer
  9. God has asked me to trust Him to speak to, move, and reprove my man

I am not the Holy Spirit, even in Jeff’s life. Especially in Jeff’s life. God is at work to teach, convict, lead, guide, correct, and motivate my husband. A wife is called to be her mate’s helper, not his commander.

A decision-making time is often a waiting time.  While our husband thinks and ponders and considers and concludes, we wrestle with our urge to take charge for our preferred course of action. Instead of interrupting with a barrage of words, we can love him by offering him the gift of time to decide, even if the decision isn’t what we alone would choose.  While waiting for seconds or for a season, we can prepare our heart for the God-directed outcome and cultivate our personal reservoir of faith.

Waiting on our man to come to a divinely directed decision making solidifies the trust between us, fuels his sense of respect, and grows us in believing God supplies our needs.

decision making in marriage

I didn’t fall asleep that first night. But I fell asleep the next night and every night that followed … in those sheets, in that bed, in that room, after balancing daily in the broken shower. Jeff knew that when morning came, I would see streets lined with those who slept without a room or a sheet, who haven’t set foot inside a shower. He knew the our hotel room, in the condition we received it, was exactly what we needed for the moment. It was his decision, and it was the right one.

Are you in the middle of making a decision? We are! I’m praying this prayer. God listens to our prayers for our husbands, our marriages, and our homes. Will you pray this with me?

God, help me not to obstruct my husband’s decision-making and thwart what you want to do in our lives. Help me to truly be a “helpmate” as I contribute to, pray for, and wait on decisions small and large.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whateveryou want I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.  (From Galatians 5:16-26)

 

By Julie Sanders

Overnight Crockpot Sausage Breakfast Casserole Served with Gratitude

Spending time in a place with so little will arouse an attitude of gratitude for living in a place of enough. To be honest … for living in a place of “more than enough.”

Arousing an attitude of gratitude

We arrived in Delhi early on a Saturday morning. Too early for going back to sleep and too early for getting up. Each team member took their own approach. After trying not to toss and turn with too much noise (sorry, Honey …) for the first two hours, I decided to get up and get dressed and watch Delhi wake up. It didn’t take long to get myself in order, since “ponytail” was the extent of my hair care while traveling. Lovely.

The lounge was already sticky when I walked down the steep steps. I smiled at the groggy desk clerk and concluded I had broken an unspoken cultural rule. With both of us feeling rather sheepish then at 6 am, I sat down on a bench and looked out the window. The street looked a bit like the night after a football game or concert or carnival, but the faces of the early pedestrians gave away the very normal condition of the day. One passing face captured my attention and woke me up.

A girl somewhere between 11 and 13 walked barefoot beside a woman with a baby perched on her hip. I don’t say her “mom,” because I don’t think she was the mom. It was too much to think of her as the girl’s mom. But maybe there was something unspoken culturally there too, because the trio walked past me wearing disheveled rags that also looked like the night after a football game, concert or carnival, but like roadside debris picked up from one of those.

The tween girl limped on her left leg, carrying a tin pan at her side. The pan reminded me of the ones my grandma used to make pies, but then turned into dog pans for leftovers. I watched until the “mother” took the girl past the aggressive buses and equally aggressive crowd, left the child stationed at the corner, and then walked back past me. She stopped only to glance around the frame of the street, to pick through refuse for food overlooked during the night by dogs or cows or other people. Having food, especially having “more than enough” food, makes us rich indeed. Watching Delhi wake up hungry aroused my attitude of gratitude.

Indian woman

Realizing that what we have is having so much will change the way we cook, serve, and welcome friends to our table. This weekend Jeff and I welcomed 8 college students to our table as they celebrate fall break. Instead of complaining about the many hungry mouths or all the paper plates or the dishes to wash, I’m just grateful. So grateful I have food to share. More than enough to share.

Here’s my recipe for Crockpot Sausage Breakfast Casserole that feeds a hungry crowd of 10 – 12, depending on how many of them are college students!

Crockpot Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Crockpot Sausage Breakfast Casserole

  • 10 pieces of bread, torn
  • 1 roll of sausage, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • 11 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 3 cups shredded colby jack cheese

Spray (cooking spray) a 5 or 6 quart crock. Layer 10 pieces of torn bread all over the bottom. I like to use homemade bread for this, but it’s just as good with french bread or your favorite loaf of bread. Sprinkle the cooked/crumbled sausage all over the bread. Sprinkle with salt, pepper & dry mustard. Sprinkle 2 cups of the cheese over the top. Combine milk and eggs, stirring until eggs are thoroughly combined. Pour the egg/milk mixture evenly over the ingredients in the crock. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of cheese.

I like to assemble this the night before and put it in the refrigerator (another blessing). When you get up, turn the crockpot on to high for about 2 1/2 hours. Check to see if it’s cooked through, though still soft and creamy. You may let it cook another 1/2 hr. if it needs more time. It works well as a “eat when you’re ready” dish … unless you’re the last one :)

Serve this with fruit and toast or muffins, if you are so blessed.

Let’s cook, serve, and welcome loved ones to our tables with an attitude of gratitude this weekend!

By Julie Sanders