I was in an Amish bakery once and on the wall was a cardboard handwritten sign.
January 01, 2016
I was in an Amish bakery once and on the wall was a cardboard handwritten sign.
All of Me - None of Jesus
Less of Me - More of Jesus
None of Me - All of Jesus
I know that the Holy Spirit engrained those words in me because almost 20 years later they are still words I think about often.
I definitely live in the middle of that sign. Less of Me - More of Jesus...I waver however in how much less and how much more.
The Holy Spirit also engrained some memories in my heart when I was at my Mom's funeral about 15 years ago. Many people stood and talked about things my mom had DONE for them and how much it meant to them. My mom had always been someone who took notice of others. How could she bring sunshine into their lives? My mom would be called poor by the worlds standards, but she would give whatever she had to others. She cooked a meal for a newlywed couple when we were little, the man years later commented that he noticed we didn't have anything in our refrigerator. My mom had cooked the last of what we had and invited someone over to share a meal. It was holy ground. The stories could go on, but the gist of it was that my mom was a giver. She gave of herself, she gave of her possessions, she gave of her smiles, she gave us hopeful optimism; she was someone who had chosen to look at the bright side in every situation when things would be dismal. She made the meals of oranges from a neighbors tree or popcorn a party. She knew there were people who had less, and she also knew that every situation was determined in your own outlook. She was a gift.
So this year I hope to hover to the right on the more of Jesus, more kindness, more generosity, more love, like my Mom.
A place that God has convicted me over the last many years is through Facebook. I love Facebook, but it is super easy to be tempted to hit "like" or make a compassionate comment when someone is struggling and reach the conclusion that my job is done. God has made a check in my spirit when that comment or like is not enough, when he is calling me to be the hands of Jesus. I do my best to listen and to follow through. I also feel like it doesn't have to be a huge gesture most of the time, maybe a note in the mail, a homemade pie, a bag of candy, paper goods, always it includes prayer.
There is no satisfaction in my life when I am focused inward. To make 2016 the best year I can I need to be focused upward to God and outward to those around me.
Less of Me and More of Jesus, being available to be used in the Kingdom of God happening all around me on earth. Thanks be to God.
November 05, 2015
If you don't have the Holy Spirit living in you, it might be an easy choice to just move on. Deposit those relationships in the trash and not try to lean into God for his grace for forgiveness, amends, unity. If you do have the Holy Spirit living in you...well, things just don't work that way without your own spirit being affected and grieving the Spirit of God.
More than a year ago one of my friends was really hurt. We hurt with him and his family. It affected my kids. It affected lots of my friends. The mama bear in me was roaring inside and out...it wouldn't have been right for me to not hurt for my friend, for my kids. I spoke up to the people who had made the choice, I prayed for peace for all involved. Satan was ready to take that hurt and insert bitterness, unforgiveness, discontent and anger. I had to pray for this not to happen every. single. day. for these demonic spirits to not take hold of my spirit. I didn't want them to be my guide. I wanted the fruit of the Spirit of God to be my guide.
I would like to say that they didn't but the truth of the matter is that they did. Maybe not a full out oppression, but it was harder for me to lift my hands in praise on Sunday mornings, I was quick to judge, I had less patience, my words flowed too freely and not in lifting others up, my spirit became more critical.
I knew within a month or so that God was calling me into reconciliation within my heart to love all the people involved. He made it clear to me that He would work it all out. He would bring good. I needed to let it go. I needed to love every person involved with the love of God that directly flows from the Holy Spirit through me. But my angry spirit was grieving the Holy Spirit. I was hurting myself by not forgiving. I was removing myself from God's Kingdom work on earth to the extent that I wanted to be used.
All the gifts God had given me meant nothing without love. That clanging symbol that scripture talks about. Every good thing I did in His name was noise to Him because I wasn't living a life poured out to love and reconciliation.
So what did I do about it. I prayed. I humbled my spirit. I prayed. I prayed. I put myself in situations again where I was with the people who were involved in this situation. Learning to love is not avoidance of the person. It is allowing God to do his supernatural work to mend a broken heart, to spring forth love when the well is dry. I allowed God to work in me. It was hard work. It required a lot of silence when I wanted to mouth off. It required a breath, maybe lots of breaths to let my thoughts be filtered by the Holy Spirit before something hurtful came out of my mouth. I am just over a year into this journey and I do love all the people involved, God has done a work in me. I am thrilled to see that through the work of the Spirit and my collaboration to see that I am farther down the journey than I was a year ago.
Most of the time when we are frustrated with a situation, it is nothing like the forgiveness that is needed above. Most of the time it is hurt feelings, not hurt bodies. I had to decide I wanted Jesus more than I wanted to hold onto a grudge. Accepting others in their humanity is attached to accepting ourselves. We are not perfect, we hurt people, Holy Father help me forgive others as You have forgiven me.
Holy Spirit fill me with all your good gifts. Show me the places that I am holding back. Show me the places that I am afraid. Show me the places that I need to surrender. All of You Lord is what I desire.
October 29, 2015
If you knew Beth, then you knew that she was a giver. She was a hard worker. She was redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. She was transparent. She always had a smile. She was pure joy. She loved Jesus. She loved her family.
I met Beth a couple of years ago. My grandfather was sent a new helper from home health about the same time he entered Hospice care at home. My grandfather lived a life devoted to Jesus. He was special. One of his great earthly rewards was that in his last days he had Beth to tend to him. Beth had taken the closest bus to my grandfather's house but it was still about 6 blocks away from his home. She had walked in the rain to tend to my grandfather a couple of times before I realized this and could help her with rides. I knew immediately Beth was a hard worker. As I left for the day to go home Beth asked me for any specific instructions. Taking care of a person on Hospice has lots of different facets. Beth was fearless. She had tended to others in their last days before and she was not afraid to do what needed to be done. Beth was not a Hospice worker, but a home health worker. She would walk my grandfather through his last days with the tenderness and concern as though she was part of our family.
I left some instructions for Beth and gave my grandfather a kiss on the cheek as he was resting when I left that day. The next morning I came back to a full page of notes written by Beth to let me know what she did as far as chores and meal preparation. And then she left me the scriptures (chapters and chapters from the Psalms) she read over my grandfather as he slept. She prayed, she sang, she spoke the love of Christ to my sweet Gran. I read her notes the next morning and my eyes welled up. Tears fell. Not only was my grandfather getting excellent care he was getting Christ's love from Beth.
I looked forward to every interaction with Beth. She didn't have much money to spare, but several times she bought some special groceries to make my grandfather special treats. She treated him like he was the most special person on earth.
Beth treated everyone like this.
Little did anyone know that Beth had been sick for a while. She had been in pain, but she didn't know it was cancer. The doctors told her it was normal to have back pain at her age. Beth was 50 years old. She had seen some rough times, made some destructive choices in her life, lived addicted for many years. Even then she still took care of her children. Beth had been clean for many years. I know that Beth must have always had a heart of gold. Once clean she lived out of a gratefulness of forgiveness. She was a giver of grace because she had been given so much grace. She loved to dance when she worshiped Jesus. Everything she did was a life poured out to Christ. I am most definitely a better person for Beth. She touched my life in such a special way. The world was a better place for her. She leaves a legacy of love and kindness.
July 27, 2015
"Dressed in full protective gear, I offered the young woman my right hand protected by two surgical gloves. She grabbed hold. 'Felicia, my name is Dr. Brantly,' I said. 'This is David. He's one of our nurses." David greeted her. 'We are going to take good care of you here,' I assured Felicia."
I was on page one of Called for Life the newly released book of Kent and Amber Brantly and I was already being challenged.
I have always LOVED reading accounts of missionaries and spiritual greats. I have read and re-read Hearts on Fire, the Autobiography of George Muller and The Simple Path by Mother Teresa. From my couch with my cup of coffee I can be jolted through words on a page to look beyond myself and my world.
We have inspiring biblical accounts of Paul and his missionary journeys, Ruth and Naomi setting out together, and Abraham leaving his homeland just to name a few. All of these stories teach me great truths about the faithfulness of God and what great things He can accomplish through people who will walk in the path He has set for them. I love these stories. They have stood the test of time, thousands of years and they are still riveting.
However, through modern day accounts of people who have let God have His way with them we can also be inspired. Modern day accounts of God showing us He is alive and active though his people, here and now, builds my faith in exponential ways.
The Holy Spirit will ask me the question when I set down a book like Called for Life once I have turned the last page. So what? Are you going to let this book change you in some way or are you going to stay the same?
I have had several days to think about what my take away would be. I am not a missionary doctor, my vocation is not one of working in a church. How does one translate holding out a hand to an Ebola patient in Liberia to living and working in Abilene, Tx? I think what I love so much about the account of Felicia is that Kent probably knew that he could not take away her Ebola. He knew that she would continue to become more sick each day. His job would be to help her medically how he could, but equally (or more) importantly was to let her know that she was not alone. The team at ELWA would walk it out with her. They would offer her dignity and assurance through her illness. This love that Kent and the team at ELWA would offer would be a supernatural love that comes from being a vessel of Jesus.
In scripture, just like the Good Samaritan stopped when the others had passed the beaten and broken man, maybe I can stop more often, too. It might not be convenient, but it probably wasn't convenient to move across the world to be a hand to hold for Felicia as she was dying. We can pray for God to bring people into our lives that could use a hand. We might not be able to fix or heal them, but we can walk beside.
There are worse things than struggling through life,... struggling alone. I cried the hardest when reading Called for Life when I read about the times Kent was alone as he was getting sicker and sicker. A friend or helping hand brings comfort even in the darkest of times. God was certainly with Kent, but he needed a physical presence in the room with him, too.
There are times that I have been able to walk along with others and just a physical presence has eased their pain. Many times other people have been that for me. God does not ever let that desire subside, He has lots for us to do. He has so much love to share and to be the vessel that the love flows through to others is such a gift. In the words of Samuel..."Here I am, Lord,.... I am listening...send me."
To sum up where I think God is tapping on my shoulder is to simply live a life of hospitality. What that means to me is welcoming others. Holding a hand out like Kent held his hand out. Offering a smile and kindness when there might be some discomfort for me, making others feel welcome and not judged or as though they have some sort of standard to live up to. Just being a friend.
July 01, 2015
It seems like our world has gotten really noisy this last week, month, year... This last week especially I have avoided television, lightly skimmed Facebook to be able to look past all the political and moral condemnations, but still trying to keep up with friends and family. I have prayed for a heart centered on God and His greatness to keep me from swaying to and fro with the loudness of other voices. Voices on social media are so loud, even though I can't physically hear them, it seems as though they are screaming for or against a cause with deafening clarity and force.
The entity of politics has a gift of taking the faces, emotions, life circumstances, heartbreak... and turning it into a faceless mass that is easy to condemn. There is a book I was required to read in my Christianity in Culture class with Dr. Jerry Taylor. It was written by a man in politics that spoke to the way that the political machine plans carefully how it wants to swing it's followers. (I wish I could remember the name and author of the book). Since then I have made myself be more aware to the stories that I latch on to. If I hear a news story that starts up my adrenaline I will take a step back and try my best to think through what the agenda is of the story teller.
A couple of questions I ask myself before hopping on a cause:
1. Does this cause line up with the message of Jesus?
2. Does this cause bring people to Jesus and exhibit the love, mercy and grace that He so freely offers?
3. Is there a possibility that I haven't humbled myself to see all aspects of the cause? Have I tried my best to put myself in other's shoes?
4. Am I spinning my wheels...wasting emotional energy when I could be doing something more effective?
5. Do my words encourage people to be their best and helping them see themselves through the eyes of Jesus? Or would they be condemning?
6. The world is so noisy... could I just be a person of peace and hold the hands of those around me, letting Jesus do His work of inviting people to be closer to Him?
Words of condemnation never bring people closer to Christ. It is through the fruits of the Spirit that we can be His people, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control that we can be used by Jesus.
I look back to my former self that was a follower of politics (many years ago) and it was through the conviction of the Holy Spirit that I saw that it many times brought bitterness, anger, judgmental-ness, fear, condemnation. I was convicted to step out of the noise. I have tried my best to become a listener and prayer, not a talker when it comes to political/moral causes. The times I am a talker...I almost always regret it.
Maybe it is just me but it seems like the entity of politics has a great way of separating us from our neighbor...
June 22, 2015
It seems like I have this thought several times a day right now. Derek has graduated from high school and is preparing to move into the dorms towards the end of summer. Each day I think of some truth I want to remind him of.
This list is not all-inclusive...but these are some important truths we have talked about with our kids through the years that have taken on a new importance during this last summer.
1. You are loved. We will always walk beside you. God loves you most.
2. You are smart, but distractions can affect your future if you will let them.
3. Always treat others with respect and dignity and with kind words.
4. Sex outside of marriage will affect your marriage. Be smart with your choices.
5. Underage drinking and/or excessive drinking can screw up your life and other
6. Don't stay up all night. Our bodies need sleep. Our brain needs sleep.
7. You have the Holy Spirit in you. Listen to that voice that will guide you to great things.
8. Enjoy this time. Make great friends. Choose friends that will help you succeed not pull you down.
9. You don't have to have everything figured out. Enjoy the journey.
10. When you make mistakes go back to number 1.
When I think about moving Derek into his dorm room and driving away I am sure I will have a million emotions but most of all I will be excited for this next step in his journey. As parents we have done our best to raise our children to have good hearts, to be hard workers, not to be entitled, to always see who could use encouragement around them and to love and follow Jesus. Do I wish that I could have assurance that my precious boy will follow all of my advice...yes. But I also know that it was through my mistakes that my heart was made compassionate for others. It was through my mistakes that I learned how blessed I was that I have been given grace through Jesus and then could give it to others. It was through my mistakes that I learned that I really didn't know best for myself, that God is the one who must lead me. God is in control. Into Thy hands I commit my son. Thanks for choosing me to be his mom.
June 06, 2015
A Sacred Rhythm
Acknowledge that God is all I need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called me by his own glory and goodness.
He has given me precious and great promises so I can escape corruption and become a participant of His divine nature.
For these reasons I must make every effort to support my faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with mutual affection and mutual affection with love.
If these things are mine and are increasing they will keep me from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If I lack these things, I am short-sighted and blind, and forget the cleansing of my past sins.
I need to be all the more eager to follow the above steps and then entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for me.
This last year I let worldly desires take the driving position in my car. Desires that took my eyes off God. Life without God in the driver's seat is excruciating. I let the desire to get debt paid off take me to a place that I was determined to "get it done." Numbers became what I measured myself by...once I opened the door then Satan was thrilled to lend me the spirits of anxiety, control and fear. Thanks be to God he has been faithful and allowed me to be restored to a place of peace and rid of the constant torture of anxiety, control and fear and He has taken the wheel that I gave back to Him. He is a much better boss to me than I am to myself.
I am so thankful for the power of prayer and good friends who listen to God and will reach out to me and help me in my journey.