Monday, July 15, 2019

A Place for You

It seems that we all need to feel like we fit. We all want a place that we can call home. A place that we feel like we belong. A place that we feel welcome. A place where we won’t feel rejected, but accepted in love.
Sadly, that’s not always the case. Many of you reading this have felt the sting of rejection. You’ve experience the pain of abuse. You know what it feels like to be an outcast. You’ve questioned your worth. You’ve wondered if you really belong, especially as it relates to God and His crowd.
Everyone of us have stories that shape us. Much of our story has beautiful parts, But, some parts of our story are deep, hidden, painful and lonely.  We wonder if others would really want to know us if they knew our whole story? Those parts of the story we prefer to hide and act like nothing happened, even though something did happen.
Some years back, I went through something that no one should ever have to endure. It shouldn’t have happened in the place it happened. In a brief period of time, I went from feeling that there was a place for me to having my heart ripped open by betrayal, deceit and more.
For those of you who relate in the slightest bit to this, please know I am so very sorry for the pain you endured. No matter who did what to you or what you endured, God longs to heal you and give you a hope and a future. He is so FOR you! 
Our Father God loves us so much and by the way, has a very special place for you. Right beside Him! He loves you and is not embarrassed by you. He does not avoid you or look down on you or reject you or fail to acknowledge you. God thinks you matter and that you’re cool, beloved and created in His image. You are His. You are precious. He is well pleased with you.
There IS a place for you. It may not be where you thought it would be. But, it’s right next to a loving God who will go the distance to capture your heart. God’s love will wreck you in all the right ways. Find a quiet spot, take 5:33 minutes and check out this song. Let God love on you a bit…..
“Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ‘til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserver it,
Still, you give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me…… (continued)
Reckless Love lyrics @ Bethel Music Publishing (Cory Asbury)
Nancy Abbott is the Chaplain of the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Is God Worth a Follow?

Hiking in Colorado is for me a lot like the phrase “my eyes are bigger than my stomach.” I have grandiose ideas that I can hike way more than I really can.

Nevertheless, on our second day in Colorado, we started the Coulton Creek trail that went on to become the Hinman Trail, in Routt County. These trails probably mean nothing to you, as they did me. It wasn’t until we started climbing that they began to mean something to me. We knew the hike was about 9 or so miles. I was hurting by 2 miles from some interesting altitude sickness that I hadn’t planned on.
On our hike, we traipsed through ankle deep mud, complete with horses' hoof marks and other unidentified tracks. We passed over, around and under limbs that had encroached the trail. We took on some good windy inclines that took what little breath I had…away. We saw beautiful wildflowers, with ornate curvy Aspens, changed by the shifted land. Just to top it off, on those 9 plus miles, we saw only 3 people! But, the cool part of the trip was my mountain man husband, Ben, leading the way for my dog Zoe and myself.
Ben knows mountains and the ways of the hiker. I trusted him. Even when there were times I thought we’d lost our way, Ben would review the map and confidently lead us. Ben constantly would alert me when there was a rough patch, while always checking out how best to get around the fallen limb(s) on our path. He would encourage me to rest in the most beautiful places and take in the beauty.
As I was hiking, I was thinking about the beauty of Psalm 23 and the Shepherd. The focus in the Psalm is that God is always with us. As we grow in relationship with Him, we can say as the Psalmist, there is nothing we lack. He guides us and leads us. He knows what is best. He will never leave us. (Hebrews 13:5-6) Sadly, we are the ones who wander and go our own way. We are the ones who can often think we have a better way or can manage life on our own.
I’ve learned through the rough and smooth patches of my life that I really don’t have a better way. Not one. God’s path is really the best path for me to follow. He will never lead me astray and He longs for real, authentic, close, down-to-earth relationship with me. I will spend the rest of my life making my relationship with God a high priority.
Is God worth a follow? Just try Him. 
“Faith don’t come in a bushel basket, Missy. It comes one step at a time. Decide to trust Him for one little thing today, and before you know it, you find out He’s so trustworthy, you be putting your whole life in His hands.” Lynn Austin
"Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea. Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall lead me, And your right hand shall hold me." Psalm 139:7-10
Nancy Abbott is the Chaplain for the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Bigger Than I Thought

I think sometimes we think that God is way out there in the heavens and kind of a fuddy-duddy and distant. Many of us have had bad experiences in the church. It’s affected us, for sure. Some of us have grown up going to church, but found it boring, distant and impersonal.
Could it be that God is different from your negative church experiences? Could it be that your preconceived notions or thoughts about God may not be accurate? Might you be basing your view of God in how you see (or saw) other Christians behaving?
There was a time when I wanted to give up on the local church. The pain I experienced seemed too much to bear. It just didn’t seem worth it. But, then, I realized that God designed the local church for me to learn, thrive and grow together. I refused to throw in the towel on the church...and God!
Perhaps, you and I need to enlarge our view of God? Last night, I got a little teary as I sang the song “Bigger Than I Thought” (Song by Passion, Songwriters: Natalie Sims/Sean Curran/Allen Swoope) with other women at my church.
“Speak to me
When the silence steals my voice
You understand me
You understand me
Come to me
In the valley of unknowns
You understand me
You understand me 
So I throw all my cares before You
My doubts and fears don’t scare You
You’re bigger than I thought You were
You’re bigger than I thought
So I stop all negotiations
With the God of all creation
You’re bigger than I thought You were
You’re bigger than I thought You were, yes…..”
I’m not sure why I was a weepy hot mess during this song, but I was. God just poured out His love to me in a moment when I was really hurting. He reminded me that I could give Him my pain, my doubts and my fears. He reminded me of how truly personal He was and that He knew EVERYTHING about me, and loved me unconditionally.
God is personal, folks. He’s longing for a relationship with each of you. Perhaps, it's time to have a chat with God. He'll meet you right where you are. 
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” Declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
Nancy Abbott is the Chaplain of the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Where Did I Lose My Patience?

It was my third time back to the car dealer to fix a recall on my relatively new car. Each time I went, I was hopeful that THIS time it would be fixed. Third time’s a charm, right?
With high hopes, I dropped off my key fab and watched the young man drive my car back to the service area. He looked pretty anxious; it had to be his first day on the job! It wasn’t about 30 minutes later that I find out that he had driven my car into something in the service area. Now, I’m in a rental while they fix the damage to my car.  
How we handle these type of things are super important. I was so tempted to get angry and frustrated and let them know a thing or two.  Thankfully, I was calm, while sharing my frustration, but understanding the young man just had an accident.  I’m not happy about this ongoing car saga, but I do think a side benefit is a lesson in patience. I think God wants me to teach me some patience.
Why patience? Because I struggle with patience. I can get easily irritated at slow drivers. Bad service. Replying all. People who have more that 15 items at express checkout. Using both armrests on a plane.  Just goofy things, but that’s my list.
Why is God so patient with me time after time when I mess up? Well, it’s because God IS patience. In 1 Corinthians 13:4 it states “Love is patient, love is kind.”  God is also love (1 John 4:16) He doesn’t lose patience because He is love!
How do we demonstrate God’s love with others? By showing patience when the car dealer rams your car into something while trying to fix something else. By letting the busy patron go ahead of you at HEB.  By refraining from honking your horn when someone deserves a good ole’ horn honk. By showing grace, patience and kindness even when you get so irritated with a grumpy member.
When we’re patient in an impatient world, we embody God’s character and love. It’s rare, isn’t it?
I’m so thankful today that God is patient with me. He puts up with my foibles and flaws and loves me with unconditional love. When I respond to situations and people with patience, I’m just giving away God’s love. Who doesn’t need God’s love?
Nancy Abbott is the Chaplain for the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.

Monday, June 17, 2019

When We Don't Know the Whole Story

I’m so relieved the NBA Finals are finally over. It caused a bit of marital tension in our home that I didn’t expect. Ben, my husband, was rooting for the Toronto Raptors because two of our former Spurs’ players, Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard, are Raptors now. Ben couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to cheer for them. To me, it was obvious. I still had some leftover feelings about the trade that went down last year. I just couldn’t!
It’s hard to forget the drama that ensued with Kawhi’s injury over the course of last year. Of course, there are many who think the Spurs organization made mistakes in how they handled the situation. All I know is that there were hard feelings all around and a whole lot of gossip about what people thought happened.
When we don’t know the whole story, we can be so quick to judge. We decide to fill in the story line with the narrative we prefer. We may think we understand, but often times, we don’t. As much as I love the Spurs, I really don’t know what happened. So, how can I judge one way or another?
Do you judge a person prematurely, not knowing the whole story? I didn’t see my Kawhi-judgment in full light until I saw the actions of my husband. He let it go. He wanted the best for Kawhi. He saw through the mess and saw him for the great player he was. Ben said to me “I don’t know what happened, but what I do know is that Coach Pop hugged him at the end of the Raptor-Spurs game. No matter what happened, it tells me he’s still worth hugging.”
God loves when we see the best in others! God asks us to be free of judgment and look for the good in others. Do you have someone you judge that you’re unwilling to hug and make things right? Go ahead. Initiate. Give them a hug…..and let it go. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing.
“Jesus, free us from defensiveness that sabotages our repentance, excuse-making that keeps us strangers to your grace, and blaming others when we should be humbling ourselves.” @ScottyWardSmith
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:!-2
“If we are going to love one another more, we will have to love ourselves less, protect our interests less, demand a hearing less, worry about how we look less. Our sense of urgency will flip upside down, as we get busy looking out for one another.”  @Rayortland
Nancy Abbott is the Chaplain for the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Stuck in the Mud

I watched closely as the ominous dark clouds formed at the ranch. Finally, I thought it best to leave. I drove home, every so often checking the skies behind me. Finally, the sky began to fall. Cats and dogs and more cats and dogs. I made it home just in the nick of time.
The next day, I made a trip out to the ranch to check on Daisy, my horse. I was met with downed limbs, no power and a ton of mud. The further I traipsed toward her, the heavier my boots got. There’s not much you can do when you’re stuck in the mud.
Thankfully, my boots are now sitting on the porch in 95-degree weather drying out. Soon, they will be back to normal usage, as will the ranch.
Sooner or later, we all can experience getting stuck in the mud...
  • Manuevering through a relational challenge.
  • Getting finances back on track.
  • Stuck in something that's not your best.
  • Making the same mistake over and over.
I’m thankful I realized how inept I am at getting unstuck many years ago. Oh, yes, there are things I must do; but I can also ask God for help. God longs for us to come to Him in good times and bad. He loves when we turn to Him for help out of a sticky situation!
Psalm 40:1-2 says “I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”  Do you need a firm place to stand today?
I can honestly tell you, I’ve been in enough predicaments in my life that felt like thick mud and mire. I could make some good attempts to get out of them, but it was when I called upon God that things changed. He hears my cries. He is the only One able to lift me out of that slimy pit.
Summer is here. Where are you stuck?  What needs to happen to get unstuck? Invite God into your messes. He’s been known to make you lighter and freer than you ever thought possible.
Nancy Abbott is the Chaplain for the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Even this...

I met her once. I thanked her for the gift of life and told her if I never see her again, I will always love her and be grateful for her. I never saw her again. My birth mom died this week. She spent time in show business as a professional roller skater performing acrobatic routines. She toured with the military troops and was on the Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen shows. Perhaps my love for dance came from this one. My heart is broken and I’m sad for what could have been, but grateful for this courageous woman who gave me life.
Sooner or later, things happen in our life that can crush us. Losing Dolly has crushed me. I always hoped, always dream, always prayed that she would reach out to me and want to know me. But, she didn’t. My dream will never be reality.
It didn’t take long through my tears to return to the scripture I had just read the morning I received this news, Psalm 139: 13-14. “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  It was as if God was preparing me for the news I was about to receive!
I was reminded that God was the one that created me and He had good intentions for my life. I was not a mistake! He thinks about me all the time.  He knows everything about me and still loves me! Even before I speak, He knows what I’m going to say. My pain has brought me back to the overwhelming presence of God in my life since the day I was born. He had a plan and it was good.
I guess at some point in our life, we will ALL feel rejected, betrayed, hurt or misunderstood by someone. People hurts can be so brutal. What do you do?
Today, I run to Psalm 139. I run to God. I run to my husband and dear friends. Loss is never easy. But, thankfully, God will see me through, even this.
Nancy Abbott is the Chaplain of the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.