Doing Good is Contagious… Pass it On.

Do your little bit of good where you are. It’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world. -Desmond Tutu

Doing good is contagious. I encourage you to talk about what you are doing that is positive. Talking about doing good will inspire others to do good things, to serve others. It always seems like a bigger endeavor until you see people that you know well doing it… and you think “hmmmm… I could do that, too”… Sharing with others can put it on their hearts and they will be more likely to go forth and do good!

The same is with negativity. I admit, I like a good ‘housewives’ TV show sometimes. However, my husband has totally convicted me about this! (I try to explain to him that I just like to see their pretty dresses, great makeup and perfect hair, but he doesn’t buy that.) His philosophy is what goes in is what comes out. An old Cherokee Legend says that an old Cherokee told his grandson “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, gossip, resentment and lies. The other is Good. It is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The boy thought about it and asked… ‘Grandfather, which one will win?’ The wise old Cherokee replied: The one you feed.” The same is true for goodness. Do good. Talk about doing good. Talk about others doing good. Stay positive and focus on the positive. Remove things and people that are not doing you good, and focus on those that do. Continue to build others up, and encourage others. The benefits will come back to you in the form of a happy and more fulfilled life.

The reason why I talked about my involvement with Ann’s Hope Chest was in hopes to spur others on to help her ministry. We have recieved an outpouring of love and support since I wrote about her ministry on Facebook and posted photos of my kids packing hundreds of lunches. I have gotten numerous phone calls, text messages, emails and facebook messages of people wanting to get involved. God is so good and I’m so excited that he was able to use me to reach so many in Tallahassee that had a yearning to do good!

Amy and Michelle got ahold of the idea of helping and transformed a helping here and there to a full-blown organized informational meeting complete with charts and willing volunteers.

Michelle has had her children working hard on making sandwiches and packaging up cookies. She alone has made hundreds of lunches for donation for this ministry! photo
She has involved her close circle of friends, Amy has involved her close circle of friends, and I continue to reach out to mine. Our circle of friends overlap and so people have heard about this through others who have felt led to serve and then talked about it… God is sending an Angel Army to tackle this cause, and I couldn’t be more excited.

Ann is so pleased and as we continue to thank her and tell her what a blessing she is to our community, she says “It’s not me, It’s God.” This is SO true! This is not US, it is GOD! And God is GOOD!

If you are feeling led to serve and help out with this ministry, please let us know. Any one can help. We need people to hand out lunches, people to work behind the scenes making food, people willing to supply snacks, sandwiches, water bottles or complete lunches, people willing to donate money. Any one in any circumstance can help with this ministry.

Father, I thank you for the gift that you’ve given us in seeing these communities through your eyes, and allowing us to be your hands and feet as we serve them. Father we thank you for the provisions that you’ve given us in order to feed our own families and we will use the resources that you’ve provided us with to serve others. Please send us enough volunteers and resources to carry this project through the end of the summer so that we may continue to bless these families. We love YOU Lord and praise your holy name. ~Amen.

The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Paper Bag Blessings

I love these two sweet ones.  With a love that is deep, oh, so deep, and very wide.  Wider than my arms can stretch.  kidsatwedding

And I couldn’t imagine not being able to feed them when they are hungry.  We so take for granted the big blessings in life, like food and shelter.  We are not often reminded to just be thankful, because to us, food and shelter are not something we think about beyond “where to go for dinner”, “do you want to pack or buy today”, “is today pizza day?”, “oh, you don’t like grape jelly, well how about organic strawberry?” These are the dilemmas that we face.

And as I scramble and fuss about packing lunches for my children for summer camp each day,

There’s a momma of two.

Standing with her baby blonde boys, agonizing over that clock ticking, moment by moment, praying, praying, praying that time will slow down.  That time will slow long enough so she can figure something out.  She knows they will be hungry.  She knows she doesn’t have much for them to eat.  Noon looms over her head like a dark rain cloud, and she desperately tries to distract them.  This is a reality that I, myself, have never had to face.  However, so many in our community have.  I met this momma today.  And her two sweet blonde boys, one on a bike and the smaller one running beside his big brother, trying to keep up.  “Speedy” they called him… and as he raced up to my vehicle, parked in the front of their trailer park, trunk open wide and lunches piled high, he smiled.  “Speedy” ran faster than his brother could ride, and he flew up to me, his little legs a blur under him.  I handed him a bagged lunch and he stopped.  He smiled.  And he quickly ran to the right, behind a nearby tree, to open the brown paper sack and peer in.  The biking brother and his mom caught up, and as we handed them a lunch, the mom hung her head.  In a desperate effort to pretend I didn’t notice, to act natural, to put her at ease, I ask the boy what school he goes to, and what grade he is in, adding in my super cheerful “awesomes” and “wows”, appearing to be chipper and not totally hearbroken for this family, even though I was.  The mom thanked us repeatedly.  And I wished I could do more.  As they walked off, another family walked over, and another, and another.  We canvassed the neighborhoods, talking to the children and finding out who was in need.  It was such a blessing to serve them.

And I will be thankful as I pack my children’s lunches each day.  Instead of scrambling and fussing, I will take a moment to thank God for the rich blessing of provisions for my children.  I will also pray for those children that are in need this summer, that more volunteers reach out to help Ms. Ann Massey of Ann’s Hope Chest with this amazing ministry.

Summer challenge:  Carry someone’s burdens. summerchallenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I challenge every family to bear the burden of another this summer.  Sign up to help with this ministry through Ann’s Hope Chest.  Get your children involved.  Talk to them about giving and serving others.  Involve them in the process of lunch packing.  Whether you can pack 10 lunches or 100 lunches, just do it.  Talk about being thankful for lunch each day that God provides.  Talk about sharing with others.  Read the story about Jesus feeding the multitudes of people.  Let them ask questions that are hard to answer, but keep the conversation going.  Little minds may not fully understand every detail and every “why”, but little hearts will.

Teach them to serve and to be thankful.

lunchoutreach

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Sit this one out, Sweet Child.

Image

I’m going to make this quick… But it’s worth saying that I *almost* made a big mistake this weekend.  And it involved “Magic Mike”.  Before you get ahead of yourself, let me say that I almost went to see this movie, not knowing what it really was about… I don’t watch much TV or pay attention to much pop culture, so I was severely out of the loop.  (I really thought it was a movie about Michael Jordan’s basketball career. – Please laugh at me now.) 

Two hours before I went to see it with a few girlfriends, I looked up the movie trailer, and I was taken aback.  Um, no… I could not go see that movie.  In an effort to honestly let you know – I’m not trying to be holier-than-thou here.  I am just stating my opinion on such a hot topic.  And I am in no way trying to condemn anyone who has seen this movie or plans to see it.  As a Christian writer, though, I feel like I should weigh in on the discussion.  “Magic Mike” is not for me.  Nor was “Fifty Shades of Gray”… My thoughts are based entirely on scripture and I plan to follow what God says.  Christians are not supposed to judge, so again, I am not judging my friends that saw this movie. 

I just had to sit this one out.  And I thought I’d tell you why.  I’m guarding my heart.  I’m protecting my marriage.  I wouldn’t be happy if my husband went to this type of movie if the roles were reversed.  I am guarding my mind from temptation and lust.  I’m keeping my relationship with God first.  God told me not to go.  My intimate relationship with my husband is important to me and I don’t want to taint it. 

I am absolutely not perfect.  I do not claim to be.  I make mistakes every single day.  I’ve made HUGE mistakes in my past that I wish were different.  But I can’t take those back now… what I can do is try to LIVE RIGHT – RIGHT NOW.  I prayed for direction on this, and God said simply, ‘sit this one out, sweet child’.  And I had to tell my friends that this movie was not for me, with a huge prayer going up that they wouldn’t feel judged by me.  Luckily, they understood.  And I stayed home.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8 )

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Jesus Wrecked My Life.

It’s true.                                                               

 He came in, wrecked it, and began rebuilding.  It took time and effort and persistence.  It didn’t happen overnight.  It was gradual.  He took all of the pieces that were smashed, all of my hopes and dreams and worldly efforts, and He. crushed. them.

Then,  He took them and created something better and I simply cannot explain in words what He did.  There are no words for what He did.  I never could have done what He did.  It was not me, it was ALL Him.

And so, I give Him ALL the glory. 

I am not perfect, I am human and I make mistakes.  I NEED Jesus, and he is not finished with me.  The more I depend on Him, the more he works in me.  And the more I let Him work, the more I do not notice me, but all I see is Him.  My eyes are focused above and that focus reflects on the people around me.  I see hurting people, I see pain and poverty and people that just need to be loved.  And this relentless love builds up inside of me and it almost makes me want to cry… sometimes it does… and I just want to share with them, I just want to tell them HOW MUCH THEY ARE DEARLY LOVED. 

HOW MUCH YOU ARE DEARLY LOVED.  Yes, YOU, reading this. 

Your life was not a mistake.  Your mistakes are not your life. 

We need to pick up the shattered pieces of our life and hand them over to Jesus, one. by. one.  All of the pain, the disappointments, the shame.  One. By. One.  He will take them.  And once you’ve given Him all that you have, you are where I am… a full surrender.  A complete surrender to the point where people will begin to raise their eyebrows at you.  They will begin to wonder… “Is this for real?”  Yes, it’s for real.  And it’s so amazing.  SO completely amazing.

God changes broken into beautiful. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You just have to let Him in so he can get to work.

“Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him…Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand. -Jeremiah 18:2-6

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blessings on Loan

It’s only fitting that today, on Mother’s Day, I read about Hannah during my quiet time.

Hannah.  The woman who believed that “God had closed her womb.” (1 Samuel 1:5)  But, Hannah decided that she wanted a child so badly that she began praying for one.  She was broken without one.  She cried all the time, she could not eat.  She knew in her heart that she needed a child.  And so, she made a promise to God.

Hannah’s prayer:  “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant, but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life.”

Hannah promised God that if he answered her prayer, she would give her son back to him.  Hannah shows us very clearly that all that we have is simply on loan from God… and through this, she grew in her faith and discovered that the greatest joy of having a child is the ability to give that child back fully and freely to God.  Hannah went on to have three more sons and two daughters…. wow, she was so very blessed.  So, how do WE ‘give them back’?  By teaching them about the Bible.  By taking them to church.  By leading them in a Godly way.  By praying with them and for them and teaching them to pray.  All with the confidence that they will grow up knowing that God loves them, and living out the purposes that they were placed on this earth for.  And as they grow up following God with all of their heart, we will know that we have done all that we were supposed to do.

And as my children grow up, I hope and pray that they will lead successful and fulfilling lives, but my greatest prayer is that they will grow up to love the Lord with all their heart, with all their soul, and with all their strength.  That they will seek God earnestly with all of their heart in everything that they do.  That they will visit the sick and give to the poor, that they will not be selfish, but will always think of others. 

Thank you, God, for loaning me two of the greatest blessings of my life, my Camden and my Ella.  You know that Joe and I prayed for them, and we feel beyond blessed that they are ours.  I pray that they will always feel my love and comfort as a mother and that they know they can always count on me, but more importantly, I pray that they know You, Lord, and know that you are ALWAYS with them.  Just as Hannah gave her children back to You in service, I give my children back to You.  On this mother’s day, Lord, I’m thanking you for the blessing of motherhood.  Because through motherhood, I have seen the work of your hands, and the blessings that you pour out on me everyday are more than I could ever ask for.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

“And she said to him, ‘As surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the LORD, I prayed for this child and the LORD granted me what I asked of him.  So now I give him to the LORD, For his whole life will be given over to the LORD.” (1 Samuel 1:26-28)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Give me your eyes God… or, send me a blind dog.

Today, it was all about the eyes.  Seeing, and not seeing.

We’ve had a busy week.  As I drove from one meeting to another today, the song “Give me your eyes” by Brandon Heath came on the radio.  I had the sun-roof open and my hair was down and wild, so I cranked the radio, singing the lyrics at the top of my lungs.

Give me Your eyes for just one second/Give me Your eyes so I can see

Everything that I keep missing/Give me Your love for humanity

 Give me your arms for the broken hearted/ The ones that are far beyond my reach

Give me your heart for the one’s forgotten/ Give me Your eyes so I can see

Yeah…

Yeah.  Give me Your eyes.  As I thought about the words for a few minutes, I passed the school where I taught for many years, a school that is dear to my heart for so many reasons, and I remembered, that it was at that very place that He opened my eyes to the needs of the world.  That very place that he gave me His love for humanity.  That very place…. where he gave me His arms for the broken hearted, and I reached those that seemed far beyond my reach, and I mentored many that were forgotten.  That very place.   

I love how God gives me a song right when I need it.  I needed to hear those lyrics today, to be reminded to step outside of my busy life and pay attention to my surroundings.  Thank you, Lord, for the gentle reminder and for those years, I prayed. For they have molded me into who I am.  Give me your eyes today, Lord.  Remind me to look around.

And as if the day couldn’t have ended any more perfectly, I stopped at Eternal Grounds to grab a coffee and chat with my friend Tobi, the owner.  Of course there was excitement, just as I was paying, Tobi was telling me that she needed to hurry and quickly get out front to meet this blind and deaf coffee-loving dog that had just led his owner to Eternal Grounds!  His owner, who, seeking a coffee shop in the area, did not know that Eternal Grounds even existed. This dog was just so cool.  Blind and deaf, but loved coffee… diluted with water and ice… and he led his owner to the coffee shop by pure sense of smell.  The dog literally led his owner to the front door of Eternal Grounds… where the dog sat down and would.not.move.  Interesting?  Yes.  Notable?  Yes.  I’m not into the theology behind animals and God’s work, in fact, I really don’t have an opinion about it, nor do I care to even go there… but I do think that this particular dog owner desperately needed a blessing on this day.  He was eager to talk to Tobi and I and he was excited that he had found Eternal Grounds. 

 Watching Tobi love on this family was just such a blessing.  I love it that her coffee shop is her ministry.  Where people go for a “coffee break” from life. 

And it was there, this very place, that God broke me away from my busy life today, and showed me just how faithful and loving He really is.  Because, today, I was blind like the dog.  I was blind because I didn’t see much beyond my own crazy-busy life… but He led me there, and with a cup of coffee and a brief chat… He took a blind dog, and reminded me to see.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

His Love at The Fresh Market

It was an ordinary Saturday in the life of a mom… Child rearing, grocery shopping, housekeeping, cooking.  And an ordinary day turned in to an extraordinary opportunity.

I gathered my shopping list and headed out the door for Publix.  Only, on the way to Publix I felt like I should go to Fresh Market instead.  Something was telling me that I needed to go to Fresh Market.  So, I did.  I try really hard to listen to that inner voice, because 99% of the time it’s God pointing me where he wants me to be. 

I approached Fresh Market and was immediately captivated by the display of African Voilets.  I’m a sucker for cute potted plants for my kitchen window.  My mother-in-law has beautiful African Violets, and I so envy her ability to actually keep them alive.  I have to buy mine often… and pretend that I’ve had them for years. I hung around the display for awhile, contemplating which color I should get for my sunshine-yellow kitchen. 

As I was lost in my ‘better-homes and gardens’ daydream, an older woman approached, and started looking at the plants. 

Then she started talking to the plants. 

I kept contemplating color, and acted aloof, as if I was completely absorbed in my shopping…. part of me did not want her to feel embarrassed when she looked over and saw me standing there after she was having a chat with the violets. 

When she finally did notice me, she looked over and said “Oh, I didn’t see you there, I’m sorry, you must think I’m crazy, talking to these silly plants… it’s just… Well, I’ve been really sick and this is the first time I’ve been out in awhile, and I’m just trying to feel better.” 

“I completely understand,” I replied in my super cheerful voice.  “Feel better,” I flashed her my big smile known as ‘the big cheese’ and I scooted along my way with my pink plant.

After about fifteen minutes of shopping, I was in the juice aisle… now contemplating juices for Ella, when I encountered the woman again.  This time, she was talking with one of the Fresh Market employees.  I couldn’t help but overhear her conversation.

In hushed tones she was saying; “I’m looking for juices and purees, I have cancer in my neck and I’m having to get radiation and chemo, and the radiation is literally eating through my throat, making it raw.  I’ve tried everything, and I’m spending money that I don’t have on all of this stuff, and nothing is working.”

I was frozen in my tracks.

My heart started beating fast.

I was trying to get the courage up to go over to her and speak to her.

“You’ll probably cry,” I said to myself, “She’s going to think I’m crazy… Wait… she was the one that was just talking to the plants…. Ok, I can do this… I can do this….”

THIS IS GOD, I thought.  I am SUPPOSED to meet her.  This is WHY I felt like I was supposed to make it to Fresh Market that day.

“Ok, God, give me the words, and please don’t let me cry,” I thought.

So, I walked up to her… Introduced myself, and explained that I know EXACTLY what she’s going through.  You see, my Dad just had that same exact type of RARE cancer last year.  My mom really had a hard time finding things he could eat.  In fact, I told this woman that my mom was sort of an expert on this and that I was going to call my mom that night and get a list of things that she could eat.  I knew my mom would be on board with this. 

“Bless you”, she said, through her tears “You are an angel from God, I’m all alone dealing with this and I am just ready to give up.”

I offered encouraging words, letting her know that my Dad is doing great now and even running six miles a day again.  We exchanged phone numbers.  I asked her if I could give her a hug.  “I’m really sweaty and gross,” she replied.  “I don’t mind”, I said.  And I hugged her and she sobbed.

I immediately texted my mom and she started working on a list for my new friend, just like I knew she would.  My mom is great about those kinds of things!

I arrived home from Fresh Market with armfulls of groceries, walked in the door with a tear soaked face, blubbering.  My husband looked at me and immediately looked out of the front window to see if I had wrecked the car.  (haha.)

“Uhhh, you ok?”, he asked, cautiously. 

And I unloaded the story, as he unloaded the groceries, listening intently to my every syllable. 

“You are supposed to help her, you know.” he said when I was finished.

I already knew that deep down in my heart.  It was hard to know what to do when my Dad had cancer because our family lives nine hours away… I couldn’t do as much as I had wanted, and that bothered me.  Even though my Dad is doing great now, it still bothers me that I was not able to do more during that season.  I’ve prayed about it – asking God to continue to heal my Dad, strengthen my mom, and give me the wisdom to support them from nine hours away.  I made a blanket, bought cookbooks, sent cards, but, still, I couldn’t be there.  My Dad is healthy now and has had two cancer free scans!  Praise God!!   

This story… this is a true story of God’s Amazing Grace. 

I not only had detailed information for this woman that my mom assembled for her in regards to what she could eat, but I also had a hopeful story to share with her about how my Dad beat the very disease she was facing. 

Gretchen and I have been friends for four months now.  I have sent her cards, dropped by to bring her groceries and pray with her, I’ve brought her cherry icees and helped her figure out how to work the Magic Bullet Blender that she bought off of the TV.  I have listened to her and encouraged her. 

She has been praying for me everyday, and was one of my prayer warriors while I was on mission in Nicaragua.

She is beating this disease, and has slowly began to regain her strength.  I’m so excited for her.

If I had not listened … really listened… I might have ended up at Publix on that day.

Are you listening?  Where is God leading you?  Who is he telling YOU to love on, to care for, to pray for? 

Be still.  And listen.  Let Him lead.  All you have to do is follow.

~

Matthew 25:35-40

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments