God Altered My Life

God Altered My Life

God altered my life as an author. For years, my husband and I traveled New England selling my books, meeting people, and encouraging them in relationship with God. We often discussed expanding these trips countrywide once our youngest was to graduate. I was sure it was a route to success as a writer and excitedly looked forward to it.

That’s all changed.

My husband’s sudden and fast-growing collection of vinyl records frustrated me. I felt I was supposed to be supportive, but it was nothing I cared about. In fact, it made me angry. At God’s continued nudging, I finally offered help. We spent many nights checking, cleaning, and organizing all he was amassing. For what purpose, I wondered in irritation?

Selling them seemed logical. Chris joined me as a vendor at a number of fairs until it became too burdensome. I knew my life was at a crossroad. After seeking God’s direction and arguing with Him about it, I stepped out on faith and suggested we open a store in our house. I offered to stop traveling and stay home to run it. He agreed. Years of marketing had come to an end, and I was struggling.

Chris and Rebecca Matthews stands in front of the Open sign in front of their new vinyl record shop, Chris's Nostalgia Shop

Chris’s Nostalgia Shop opened for business on January 29, 2018

During this transition, inwardly I was hurt and angry at God, at my husband, and at his hobby. My publisher had already closed unexpectedly in the midst of projects. Now, with the loss of hands-on marketing, my dream to be a successful writer felt crushed. Though I definitely wavered in support of my husband’s new joy, I did trust God.

Chris’s Nostalgia Shop Has Grown!

We’ve expanded the shop since it opened and our inventory has taken over much of our home, prompting big changes to take place. The work involved to run it consumes much of my days, often much of my nights, but I really enjoy this job! It seems perfect for my personality. Keeping and updating lists and organizing product, oddly enough, brings me joy.

It feels wonderful supporting my husband’s dreams. He’s been my biggest supporter over the years and it’s such a blessing to give back and see him enjoy this endeavor. I also have the freedom to write encouraging content for others while I’m working. And most importantly, with all the time I now spend focused on my Lord while I ponder and write, pray and praise, I sense His powerful presence all the time. He’s at my center again, where He belongs. Ultimately, my intimate and personal relationship with Christ is the most important thing in my life and I now get to nurture it freely.

This life change was perfect for me!

You see, God altered my life because He knows what’s best. And while change is difficult, I’ve found peace in choosing to trust Him. Let me encourage you. No matter what changes occur, perceived good or bad, trust Him. God has the best plans!

This reminds me of a little tree, Little Birch, who learned a similar lesson. Check out my children’s book Little Birch Finds Peace!

Is Friendship Essential to the Soul?

Is Friendship Essential to the Soul?

Is friendship essential to the soul? Essential, as a word, indicates something that is vital, fundamental, a lifeblood, or a necessity. Does this describe what a friend is or should be to us? I dare say we put too much value in creation and things of this earth, including people such as our friends.

When we value someone to the degree that they are a necessity or a crucial need in our lives, we’ve placed them higher than they should be. With a demand so strong, we risk hindering both our life and that of those we cling so tightly to.

What is the purpose of friendship, what part do we play as a friend, and what is our friend’s role in our life? Are we able to heal them when they’re hurting? Can we protect them when tragedy strikes? Do we keep guard when enemies threaten? Are we peacemakers when life overwhelms? Strength, wisdom, peace, hope, and encouragement are all sought from friends or expected of us by others. However, all of these are not, or should not be, our functions in life.

We’ll be sorely disappointed if we cling to another person and expect them to fulfill a role for us they’re not meant to. They cannot meet all of our needs. By letting our unfulfilled expectations be known, expectations that cannot fully be achieved by anyone, we impose the impression of failure on our friends, inflicting disappointment on them.

When we try to be the best friend, offering advice, giving guidance, and trying to be what we think others would want of us, we fall short, struggle to keep up the façade, and find ourselves stressed out and anxious. We can’t possibly be all to all or even all to one other person. It’s exhausting and leads to unhappiness in ourselves and our friendships.

Imagine if we treated friendships as freedom, allowing someone a safe place to simply be. We should listen without judgement or offering opinion. God’s whisper of direction can then be heard by our friend. We should treat friendships as an extension of ourselves by being present to uplift and pray with one another in times of rejoicing or struggle. Where two or more are gathered together praising the Lord a sacred space is created.

Friendships, true and unconditional in nature, I believe, are blessings from God, rather than essential to the soul. They offer dimension to our lives. They enrich the basics of living. Friends bring a layer to our humanity that feeds our personalities, challenges our comfort zones, and should keep us focused on God.

Don’t let friendships become exhausting.

God, however, is the One who is essential to our soul. He is our Creator, and He formed us with a need for a deep intimate connection with Him. We feel best, perform best, are healthiest in mind and soul when we live life as one with Him. It is God who should be our confidante, comforter, protector, and the source of our strength. These qualities of His are supernatural and become very powerful in the lives of His children.

As a friend, be there to encourage your friend to keep God, first and foremost, at their center no matter how difficult the circumstances. Be there to allow a safe place to vent. Not so that you can advise, but to let them hear their own voice and sense God’s response. We should rejoice together as God gives direction and praise God together as He comforts and imparts His peace during times of difficulty.

When we are that kind of friend, we grow in our own relationship with God. By directing others to the One who is essential to the soul, we are being fed as well. Our soul is filled to overflowing, and our friends benefit by that which overflows from our being, that is God. So, are friends essential to the soul? No, but a good friend will direct you to Him who is. Though we all want to be of value to someone, it takes a strong person to step aside and let God have that rightful place. He is essential to your soul.

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