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Posted Friday, August 10, 2012, at 7:37 PM

The conference was something she wanted to attend so much. The speakers and workshops drew her like a moth to a flame. However it was so far away and the logistics made her head swim. There was no way she could drive that far--well, she could, it just wasn't practical. It is hard traveling that far alone; the costs would be too much to fly; the hotel would be too expensive--why even try?

Curiosity, however, would not be satisfied until airfare was researched through discount web sites. The results would of course have to be compared to the cost of driving. Fuel costs--if she drove--were estimated one way at almost $300 . . . of course flying would be much more . . . huh? No, that has to be a one-way flight . . . couldn't be round-trip. Search again . . . no way!

Trying another website she searched again. The result was amazingly the same--only $300 round-trip . . . direct flight . . . no transfers . . . from the closest airport. She could afford that . . . but there is no way the hotel and conference fees would be affordable and then there would be transportation to and from the airport. No, it would just not be possible!

Surely it would impossible to do at this point. After all the conference would start in a little over a week; however . . . She called the conference organizer's office. They still had space available. They still had a few scholarships--would she mind a $200 discount? Oh, yes! Please book me.

The hotel discount block was past the deadline. Well, let's just call them and ask if they would still offer the discounted rate. Nerves kick in as she holds for the hotel to answer. "Is a room available for . . .?" "How much will it be?" "Yes, the conference discounted rate would be acceptable." BOOK IT!

She rushes back to the website for airfare. Her fingers flying over the keyboard, the flight is still available; wait, here is one at a better time . . . $260? BOOK IT!

Her excitement is palpable, the conference of her dreams was not only taking place--she would be a part of it. Her trip was flawless. Someone from the conference met her at the airport and drove her to the hotel since a direct shuttle wasn't available. When she arrived, the hotel didn't have any porters available to carry her luggage, so the front desk person took them for her instead. At every possible hurdle, someone stepped in to fill the gap. Her heart was overwhelmed with the kindness and love of others.

She had no more excuses. God truly made straight her path. This was where she was supposed to be. This was the time to feed her soul and prepare for the tasks ahead. The dream--vision--God had placed within her could become real. However, she had to give up her excuses.

Moses ran from God. Moses had an excuse ready at every turn when God called him to free the enslaved Israelites. Moses was given the gifts and graces by God for the task ahead. Ken Medema, in his song "Moses" asks:

"Do you know what it means, Moses? Do you know what I'm trying to say, Moses?" The rod of Moses became the rod of God.

With the rod of God, strike the rock and the water will come. With the rod of God, part the waters of the sea. With the rod of God, you can strike old Pharaoh dead. With the rod of God, you can set the people free.

What do you hold in your hand today? To what or to whom are you bound? Are you willing to give it to God right now? Give it up, let it go, throw it down.

Excuses . . . it is time to "give it up, let it go, and throw it down."

God, forgive us for our fear and clinging to our excuses. Breathe new courage into us. Place the tools in our hands. Give us the heart to live for you, walk your ways, and do what you ask us to do. So be it. Amen.

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From My Heart to Yours
Rayla Stewart Hogue
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Rayla Stewart Hogue is a native of Dexter. She is a wife, mother, and minister of the UCC (United Church of Christ). She seeks to recognize and embrace the unending hues of God's ethne and religion, and commits herself to living and expressing this inclusive diversity through Sacrament and the spoken, written, and sung Word of God.
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