My New Website

Hello faithful readers and friends!

I want to thank you for reading my blog posts/stories here at Training for Eternity. What a blessing you’ve all been to me! (And a great big shout-out and THANK YOU! to those of you who’ve been following this blog since October 2016. I can’t believe it’s been that long!)

I’ll still blog about the lessons God is teaching me here at Training for Eternity, but…

God has been stirring something new in my heart for a few months, and I’m finally able to share. I have a new website, joeyrudder.com, for this “new” journey where I’m writing stories (and blog posts!) of faith and hope to inspire my fellow underdogs to fight the good fight. I hope you’ll come check it out and follow me there!

Just a sample from my homepage:

Are you an underdog? If you are, you don’t quit. You’re stubborn enough to ignore the naysayers who tell you you’re not going to make it. You push on. Even when things are hard. Especially when things are hard. There have been times, your darkest times, when you’ve considered giving up. But that tiny spark of yours, the one about the size of a mustard seed, ignites something else that keeps you going… [read more]  

And a glimpse at my first blog post:

Waiting is hard work. It’s especially difficult for the underdog. You might feel like you don’t have much support or encouragement, that others don’t believe in you and actually voice such things. You might even feel like you’re stuck in a prison of sorts waiting for the moment when you’ll break free and step into your calling –what God created you to do… [read more]

I hope you’ll join me over at my new website. I’m excited to experience the “new” God has waiting for me…for us!

See you soon!

Joey

A New Chapter

new chapter

When I was a little girl, I loved Christmas so much I’d sulk when it was over as I headed back to school. There was a vacant spot in our family room where the Christmas tree had been with a few abandoned pine needles stuck to the carpet and mere crumbs staring up at me from the bottom of the cookie jar. My young life seemed bare and gray without all the decorations and sugary goodness.

But now I’m a little more grown-up (a little!) and there is such excitement with a new year stretching out before me because I know the Author who is going to write the next chapter in my life, giving me the tiniest glimpse in the form of a single word to ponder and pray about. (And if I know anything about God, it’s that I will never know all there is to know about Him; that alone leaves me biting my bottom lip in anticipation and wide-eyed with wonder.)

I’ve learned that when I ask God to give me a clue about the upcoming year, I’m like a little girl again only I’m not wearing pigtails and I’m not waiting to shred wrapping paper to get to a new toy. Instead, I’m sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting to pounce on the “new” and follow God on some grand and amazing adventure.

Funny, the word “adventure” leads me right into this year’s word, but it’s important to look back because the words are connected just like the chapters in a book.

Previous words: obey, new, wisdom, hope, and perseverance. And last year’s word: bold.

I smile when I think about some of the things God called me to do last year and how I needed to be bold and rely on Him for His strength – start a women’s group, speak to two groups of ladies on the same day (yikes, I was nervous!), submit my novel to an amazing agent, preach, let go of the past, ask for more of God, loosen my overprotective-momma-bear grip on our daughter knowing God’s gentle touch is always going to be better, and start speaking up about things I don’t like and things I know God doesn’t want me doing. (I’m really not supposed to have a garden or a bakery; the little pig-tailed dreamer in me has her pouty lip out.)

As I began praying and asking God weeks ago in the middle of December for the next word, the chapter title for 2019, God whispered it so profoundly to my heart:

Journey.

Oh my, what a big word! It could mean anything, really. A spiritual journey, a physical journey, a journey of healing… The list could go on and on.

Thankfully, I don’t have to have it all figured out, but I know I’ll need to be bold (see how the words are connected!). And I know God will walk with me, step by step, into this new year as He and I set out on this journey together.

And really, my friends, there is no toy or cookie that could ever be as sweet as the excitement and anticipation of drawing close to God as we begin the new chapter He has for us, revealing the abundant life He’s planned all along.

“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.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV.)

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 NASB.)

 

 

Running Out of Steam

full steam ahead

If you’re running out of steam, God may stop the train you’re on altogether.  He’s not doing it to punish you or hold you back.  He’s doing it to protect you.  He knows derailment can happen if you push forward too fast or out of sheer exhaustion.

As the train stops and sits idle, you feel antsy as if you’re wasting precious time staring out the window until God asks you to get off the train. He reaches out His hand to you and whispers, “Come to me.”

You take His hand, step down, and take a deep breath. Perhaps God wants you to look around because you may never pass this way again, and you don’t want to miss what He has for you in this very moment.

Maybe these tracks are leading you to something new, a new adventure with God, and you’re about to go through some major changes in your life.  Take a moment to relish the excitement, to hope.

Maybe it’s just been a long time since you’ve stepped away from the train to rest.  Take some time to catch your breath.  Breathe deeply.

Or perhaps the clinking of the wheels on the rails and the lonely echo of the whistle have been blocking out the still, small voice of God and He’s been trying to tell you something.  Take a moment to still your thoughts and listen for His voice.

As you’re holding His hand, standing a few feet from the tracks with the train at your back, relax.  The train is not going to leave without you. Focus on God.  Feel His hand gently holding your own.  Memorize the scent of autumn leaves mixing with the cold winter’s wind as it rushes to you from the horizon, the sunlight kissing your forehead.

Change is coming.  A new season is approaching.  Take it all in and cherish this time you have with God.

That’s why He stopped the train.  Not to discourage you or stop your momentum.  He simply wanted to take your hand and spend a little time with you.  He misses you when you’re rushing full steam ahead.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  (Matthew 11:28 NIV.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God is in the Renovation Business

renovation2

God is in the renovation business. But you have to do your part.

You have to ask Him for help.

You have to surrender to God, tell Him you need Him to move in your life even more powerfully, that you want to go deeper with Him, that you hunger and crave more of Him in your life, and you refuse to settle for where you are right now. You want more.  And to have more of Him, you know He needs to renovate you.

So you bravely ask Him to reveal the weak areas in your life, those hidden places you’ve been too busy to notice. You ask Him to be the silversmith that heats the silver, revealing the dross, those impurities in your heart, so He can scrape them off and toss them out of your life.

But before He removes them, He lets you see them. All of your bitterness and anger surface and sit there like ugly black chunks beside the bright, hot metal.  God allows you to get a good look at it, to really see it for what it is.

You get more and more uncomfortable the longer He allows it to stay. You want it gone.  You want God to hurry up and dispose of it because it’s painful to see.

He allows it to linger just long enough. This isn’t to hurt you, but to give you the opportunity to see what you’ve kept hidden and what it was doing to you.  You realize, this is a lesson from your Teacher.  You hear Him whisper, “That anger is like a disease in your spirit.”  And when you think about it, you realize it started as a small speck but because you failed to deal with it, it spread like some sort of gangrene, devouring the goodness and purity surrounding it.

And you can’t help but notice the striking contrast:  His blinding, powerful light against the darkness of your hidden sin.

But again, you asked God to draw you closer to Him. This isn’t a task to simply point out your flaws but to point out your need for Him.  He’s the only One who can remove such agonizing and toxic things from your life.

So you take a deep breath, acknowledge what you see and ask for forgiveness and for help. And then you let go.  You let go of the time someone hurt you, the moment you were abandoned, discarded, forgotten, and labeled.  It’s done ugly things to you and holding on isn’t bringing you power over the situation; it’s trapping you in the moment and keeping you a prisoner as the disease spreads and consumes more and more of you.

But again, God is in the renovation business; taking the old, worn, and broken and making it new.

So you focus on Him. You imagine His mighty hand removing all the poison, refining you.  Perhaps you hit your knees, completely falling apart knowing He is about to rebuild.  Or maybe you stand taller, tears streaming down your cheeks as you close your eyes and lift your face heavenward, knowing He is watching you… and smiling.

His renovation has brought you not only closer to Him, but to something He offers:

Freedom.

The ugliness no longer has a hold on you. The memory no longer traps you.  The guilt and shame no longer suffocate your joy.

You are free to walk even closer to God. It’s where He’s wanted you all along.

“For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.” (Psalm 66:10 NIV.)

 

When God Renovates a Broken Spirit

renovation

It’s a great feeling to scrape off old paint and watch the thirsty wood drink in a fresh coat or to demolish an old deck that was nothing more than an eyesore and a disaster waiting to happen and watch as new boards begin to reach into the backyard.

Renovation.  Taking the old and broken and restoring it and making it new.

Is God renovating your broken spirit?

Perhaps your spirit is a like a run-down house that’s falling in on itself, and it’s exciting and uncomfortable at the same time to watch God work; He may be doing things you don’t understand or things you’re not sure you’re going to like.  But you gave Him permission, even cried out to Him when you were in trouble when your spirit, your house, was crumbling.  No matter how hard you tried to fix it, you couldn’t.

So you step aside and take a seat on a hillside not too far away.  The scent of the sun warming the grass and the cool breeze on your skin comforts you as you rest and watch God work on you.

Still uncomfortable because change makes you squirm? Remember, this is God.  The Creator of all things, and He knows how to build you.  He did it in your mother’s womb, and He can do it again.

Only this isn’t like creating or building you for the first time.  This is rebuilding you.  Renovating, remember?

He’s going to pull all those rusty nails, so He can design something new.  He’s going to scrub away the dirt from your past, scrape off the peeling paint of your failures that you keep focusing on, and rebuild your brokenness; He sees how others have hurt you and He’s going to permanently fix that crack in your heart that you keep trying to patch.  He’s going to wash away the black spots, the anger and bitterness, to stop them from spreading.

And when the demolition is complete and there’s nothing left but a mound of rubble, you can take a good look at your own hands and admit you can’t rebuild by yourself.  You need God.  You realize your sad attempts were like building a house out of wet cardboard and tape.

God has so much more for you than the soggy shoebox contraption you’ve been fixated on and tried to maintain.

As you trust Him to keep working, to gather the materials He’s going to use to rebuild, He will also dig up the painful things you have buried deep in the soil right outside your door; the place where the brown grass crunches underfoot.  That’s where you buried all the junk you didn’t want to bring into your house but couldn’t stand to look at anymore.  You know, the stuff you needed to deal with but didn’t.  God’s going to touch and heal that spot and plant a brand new seed.

And when He’s finished rebuilding and you stand from your place on the hillside to move in closer to see all His handiwork, you’ll realize all the brokenness and ugliness have been replaced with many wonderful changes and exciting, fresh starts.

And just wait until you see what He’s planted outside your door.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NIV.)

An Old Pair of Shoes

shoes

Are you still doing what God called you to do because He wants you to stick with it or because it’s comfortable like an old pair of shoes and you just don’t want to change?

Think about those old shoes for a minute.  They feel the same way when you slip them on, you know what to expect, and you remember the holes in them so you know to watch for puddles after it rains.  They’re predictable and safe.

But are they the best for you?

Are they the shoes God wants you to wear today?  Are you doing what God wants you to do today?

Perhaps He has something new for you.  A new calling, a new pair of shoes you’d never consider trying because they’re not your favorite style or color and you don’t feel like you can be you in them.  (And really, you know, they’ll probably be a little uncomfortable at first.)

But God knows you.  He knows every talent you have (He gave you those), every weakness (He’s allowed those too), and He’s well aware of that quiet dream deep within your heart that you keep tucked away.  (He knows how that dream scares you and excites you at the same time.)

God also knows when it’s time to take off the old shoes and wait for the new ones.

Does that mean you will be barefoot at some point in time in God’s calling on your life?

Possibly.  If He’s told you to take off the old shoes and He has yet to provide the new ones, then yes.  And while you’re waiting on God for those new shoes, for Him to lead the way into something new for your life, you have to sit down and wait for Him.  Your feet will be in no shape to travel any great distance or along razor-sharp terrain; you wouldn’t know which way to go anyway, would you?

So you sit and wait on God.  How long is this going to take?

As long as God wants it to take.

But some of it depends on you.

If you’re impatient, trying to hurry God, or you set out on your own, barefoot, it could take longer than if you just waited on Him.  Not to mention it could be very painful.

And those around you may not understand what you’re going through.  They may wonder what in the world you are doing, why you are doing nothing (waiting really IS doing something…it’s trusting God right through those cravings of wanting to do the old things), and why can’t you just keep doing what you’ve been doing?

If God tells you to slip off those old shoes, don’t put them back on because someone else believes you should or because someone hands you a lovely portrait of you doing those things you used to do.  Look carefully at that painting.  Do you see the cracked paint, the faded colors?  And if you reach out to take it you’ll realize it weighs a ton; the frame is made from pure guilt.

You need to leave it behind and walk away because you know you are to listen to God, not stare back at a picture of your old self and try to figure out your next move.

God will let you know what He wants you to do.

And when His timing has arrived and He provides the new calling, those new shoes, just think how amazing it will be to slip them on.  You won’t even notice if they’re a little uncomfortable because you’ll be focusing on the righteous right hand of God that is holding your own, leading you down a new path as you leave that old pair of shoes behind.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”  (Isaiah 43: 18-19 NIV.)

 

 

Still Eating Sand?

mud-pies

Have you ever been excited about something new? Ah yes, that new car smell comes to mind.  Or maybe a new job has your mind spinning and pumping with adrenaline.  Or perhaps something like a new hairstyle and a new pair of boots has you grinning a little bit more and walking a bit taller.  “New” does not always mean “stuff.”  In fact, I like it more when “new” is from God:  a new approach to someone who’s grumpy, a new and exciting task we never thought we could accomplish, a new door we never noticed.

So what’s our part in “new” when God’s at work? Wait and pray.  Watch and be excited.  (This is coming from God…it could be anything!)  And be willing to accept change.

Wait a minute. Change?  What if we don’t want to change?  What if we like things nice and comfy and predictable?   Do we really have to change?

If you want something new, yes, you need to be willing to change. I need to be willing to change too.

I mean, I used to eat mud pies and crunch on a little sand from time to time in our sandbox in the backyard when I was a little girl, BUT thankfully God lifted me up, wiped the mud and sand from my face, and guided me through years of changing from that little girl into a woman who wants to make Him smile; my heart set on Him and my eyes fixed on the horizon for whatever He doesn’t want me to miss.

Let me put it this way, you only have two hands. You can either hold a mud pie in one hand and clutch a handful of sand in the other OR you can drop them both and pick up the “new” God has for you, the “new” He has specifically designed for you at this very moment in your life.

If you’re trusting God and not running away from change and His “new” for you like it’s something dreadful lurking in the shadows, it may possibly emerge as one of the biggest surprises and blessings of your life. So don’t run away.  Just sit tight and wait on God to introduce you to this change, this “new” He has for you.  You don’t want to miss it.

I’m sure it will be a whole lot better than sitting in the sandbox eating sand.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”  (Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV.)