Lessons from the Front Desk and Beyond

926338625-canstock5690339 My husband and I spent the past year doing volunteer work at Hephzibah Children’s Home in Macon, Ga. For us this was an opportunity of a lifetime! Most of our lives we have been involved in raising children, six of our own and three foster sons as well as other foster children and at one time we had even talked of opening a children’s home of our own one day. But it just wasn’t in God’s plan for us.

We had been serving as volunteers at the Children’s Home for several years, first with church groups and later going there for two weeks each year with another couple, so when the option came to serve long term we gave it serious thought and began to pray and seek God’s direction. It took almost three years before the way would be clear for us to make a one year commitment. We set the date for April of 2016 to April 2017.

We are both thankful for the opportunity and glad that we took this step in faith to serve God for that year at Hephzibah! Our only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner when we were younger and in better shape.

This past year has been an experience in faith, faith for strength to serve, faith for good health while we served, and faith for God to watch over our family that we left 950 miles behind for a year. And God did not disappoint!

There were many great experiences during our year of service. Experiences in learning new skills, in meeting new friends, and seeing new places. But the greatest experiences, for me, were the lessons learned at the front desk of the administration building where I spent many days filling in the gaps for the regular receptionist and as an interim receptionist between the permanent receptionists.

Now I will have to admit that it was no secret that this was not my favorite assignment while I was there. My favorite assignment was working in their donation center where I did sorting, organizing and distributing necessary items to the children and staff. This work gave me instant gratification and “felt” important and appreciated. And I worked alone a lot of the time so I could work at my own pace.

But the most valuable lessons are always learned in community with other people! I often felt that my contribution as a receptionist was small because I “just” answered the phone and greeted people directing them to where they needed to go or who they needed to talk to. Not exactly earth shaking work but as time went on and I had the opportunity to interact with many of the kids, staff, other volunteers and even the vendors and service people and I found fellowship, blessings and enjoyment in the work.

It is sad but true that it wasn’t until the last couple of months when we were completing our year and preparing to return home that I really began to realize the learning experiences God had blessed me with at that front desk as I interacted with the Hephzibah community. Not only did I learn the skills I needed to do the work but also some lessons that are still ongoing today in changing my life!

I learned what it is to accept people where they are and that everyone has a story if we are willing to listen;  that everyone needs encouragement (even those who may seem to have it all together); lessons in being accepted just the way I am and accepting encouragement as well.

In the area of communications; lessons about when to speak and when to be still, and especially about when to humble myself and ask forgiveness when I mess up the proper sequence.

My husband and I learned some things together as well.

God blessed us with time to get away from the hustle and bustle of a blessed but busy life. And after 52 years of marriage, six married children, three foster sons, fifteen grandchildren, five great grandchildren, friends, church, and community, we had built up a lot of hustle and bustle back home.

We had more time to pray and listen for God, to stop and smell the flowers and to enjoy new experiences, make new friends and create new memories. We were often able to minister one-on-one to staff, kids and other volunteers whenever and wherever God gave us the opportunities, and we learned to accept the ministry of others to us.

Other lessons learned: 

We can live with less

Our children and grand-children can survive without us (they knew that but I didn’t)

We can still work five days a week but not as fast as we once could

We can still be useful even though we are retired

And solitude is not necessarily a bad thing

But for me the best of all was that our year at Hephzibah gave us the opportunity to serve God and do ministry together in a place we love. A place where we were blessed and hopefully blessed others. A place where we worked alongside some amazing people who often face struggles and many of the challenges that every ministry experiences, yet they remain faithful and passionate in serving at risk teens and children who have been neglected and abused, and they share with them that they are loved, that they are the King’s Kids!

For most of us “baby boomers” retirement offers many great opportunities for travel, winter homes in the south, and cruises and all that is great. We have been blessed with some of these opportunities as well.

But for my husband and I, we will always be most thankful for this opportunity.

It’s been a great year!

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Filed under accountability, Children, communication, enjoyment, faith stages, Family, humility, quiet, self-examination, Work

Here’s to All of You

Reposting from Becoming a Mimimalist – 3/30/2017

Here’s to All of You Trying to Make the Most of a Bad Situation

Our world loves to glorify beautiful people. But sometimes, those who deserve the most credit are overlooked by a society praising all the wrong measures of success.

I have a beautiful friend. She is the single-parent of two equally beautiful daughters. Her husband left when the second was born with special needs.

Coincedentally, my neighbor is a single father of two. His wife left him, choosing a life of drugs over a life of responsibility.

My guess is you will never hear the names of these two amazing individuals. You’ll probably never read their blogs or follow them on Facebook. And their faces will probably never be on the cover of a magazine. But I can tell you, without a doubt in my mind, they both work harder at life than I do.

This past Saturday, I got up early to do some work on a new book. In the early morning hours while the sun was still rising, I drove to a quiet location to write. Enroute, I passed a young man, significantly overweight, out jogging. He was sweating profusely. And I was inspired because of it.

His body-shape isn’t the type you’ll see on posters in the local fitness center. But here was a guy, up early on a Saturday morning, working hard to change his life while most of my neighbors were still sleeping.

One more story.

Last week, a colleague of mine led a funeral for a friend who had recently died of a drug overdose. The deceased was a young man who had been born addicted to heroin.

Through no fault of his own but because of the actions of his mother, he waged war against addiction every day of his life. Some days, he won. Some days, he lost. In the end, it took his life.

As my colleague shared his story, he summed it up this way:

Our lost friend will, unfortunately, be remembered by most as a drug addict. But that’s not the man I knew. Quite the opposite in fact. I will remember forever my friend as the man who fought endlessly against an addiction unfairly passed onto him. I will remember him as a man who worked hard to make the most of a bad situation.

Our world loves to glorify beautiful people. We look up to and praise those who have seemingly accomplished much in visible measures. We lift up as role models and examples those who excel in sports, write books, own the stage, or excel in business and politics. And I don’t want to look down on those accomplishments and those examples, there is much we can learn from them.

But let’s face it: Life can also be messy. And not everybody gets to live in the limelight as one of the beautiful people. Some people find themselves struggling to just tread water through very difficult circumstances.

Sometimes, the trials we face in life are a result of our own doing. Sometimes they are a result of a wrong committed against us. But there is little doubt we are surrounded by people facing unfair circumstances in every direction we look.

And many of them, those fighting to make the most of it, deserve our respect and our praise. But they are often overlooked by a society that often praises all the wrong measures of success.

So allow me today… in my own small little way… to recognize those of you who are working hard to make the best of a bad situation. We see you and we applaud you.

Here’s to those of you raising kids without the support of a responsible partner.

Here’s to those of you striving to overcome the cycle of poverty or addiction in your family.

Here’s to those of you working two jobs to provide your children with more opportunity than you had growing up.

Here’s to those of you working to change the unhealthy habits that have defined your life for too long.

Here’s to those of you who have been treated unfairly in the workplace and are working hard to start again.

Here’s to those of you battling a disease that seeks to destroy your body.

Here’s to those of you caring faithfully for a loved one who is nearing the end.

Here’s to those of you who have been knocked down by life, but are staggering to get back up.

We see you and we applaud you.

Not only that, we also thank you. Thank you for inspiring us. And thank you for working hard to make life better—not just for yourself, but for those closest to you. We need more people like you in our world.

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“Let There Be Light”

light vs dark

“People who walked in darkness have seen a great light” Isaiah 9:3

As a child, and even into adulthood, I had a very real fear of the dark. Sharing a bedroom with my sister was a great comfort to me at bedtime until I was seven and we moved to a larger home where we four children all had our own room. My sister and brother were ex-tactic, but I was horrified.

It was great during the daytime to have my own space but I dreaded bedtime. For awhile my sister would let me come in at night to sleep with her but it wore thin pretty fast. She was three years older than I and wanted her “privacy” so she complained to my folks, who then said I needed to stay in my own bed. Oh, they tried to console me by assuring me there was nothing to be afraid of because they were right downstairs if I needed them but this was little consolation. Downstairs was a long ways off for a little girl afraid of the dark. It didn’t help that there was a big maple tree outside my widow and after dark, especially when the wind blew, its shadow moved in front of my window. My imagination ran wild and I was certain there was a witch in the tree, looking in my window and just waiting for me to fall asleep. I would not get back up for any reason until morning because I was afraid if I put my legs over the edge of the bed the witch or something else would be under the bed and grab my legs.

Just before it would get dark I would turn the light on in my room and  check my closet and under my bed before turning off the light to get into bed.I am not sure what I would have done if someone was there, but that dilemma didn’t cross my mind at the time. As soon as the light was off  I would make a beeline for the bed, jump onto the bed, and get the covers over me. Because everyone knows if the covers are over you no one can get you. That routine would stay with me for many years, some of it, even into my adult life if I was alone at night.

I have since gotten over this terrible fear, well mostly anyway (I still check the closets sometimes if I’m home alone). As a matter of fact I like my room as dark as I can get it at night when I go to bed. There have been a few nights when I’ve been alone and there was still a little underlying anxiety at night and I have also been known to have some grandkids spend the night a few times because I didn’t want to be alone at night.

But on a brighter note, no pun intended, it goes without saying, over all I love the light!!

 I am a morning person and feel the most productive in the daytime. I love lots of windows in my house and I want all my curtains open during the day to let as much light in as possible. And I love the feel of the sunshine on my face.

Light reveals where we are.

Light shows us the path in front of us.

Light gives us our directional bearings, rising in the east and setting in the west and the stars guided sailors long before directional equipment came along.

Light warms us and creates beautiful sunrises, sunsets and rainbows for our pleasure.

It even affects our health as the sunshine provides us with vitamin D and not enough light can cause depression and seasonal affect disorder.

Light is one of our greatest blessings, the first of all God created,  and he said “it was good” (Gen.1:3-4) Light is available 24/7 to some degree.

“Then God made two great lights the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.” (Gen. 1:16)

We take this blessing of light for granite most of the time. It isn’t until we are in the darkness and can’t find our way that we search for the light and appreciate what a blessing it is when we find it.

Darkness is great when we sleep or in a movie theater but when functioning in our daily activities, trying to do them in the dark can be a problem. When we walk in the darkness we often lose our sense of direction and even lose our way. We try to feel our way through the darkness often stumbling over obstacles in our path. We may feel like the darkness is closing in on us or makes us feel cold.

 Responses to the light often depend on how long and how deeply one has been in the darkness. After a long time in darkness the light is harsh at first and we guard out eyes from too much all at once. Even watching those leaving a dark movie theater and into the daylight we see them shield there eyes until they adjust to the light.

Walking in spiritual darkness is the most dangerous of all. When we try to find our way through this world in the darkness we lose our way, we stumble and fall. We may try to find our way through the darkness by following our feelings but like the path in front of us in the darkness things we can’t see may change the course and our feelings change with them. Soon we feel the darkness closing in on us and don’t know which way to go.

Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before the darkness overtakes you.The man who walks in dark does not know where he is going”. (John 12:35 NIV)

When God reveals his light to those living and wandering in  darkness it can seem harsh at first as it reveals where we are in our sin. And their may be guarding and shielding against the light in the beginning. It can be, as it was with Paul, downright blinding (Acts 9:3-9). But as we walk out of the darkness toward the light we will see Jesus who is the light of the world offering us a way to never have to live in or fear of the darkness again.

Unlike light made by man, the Creator’s light is: Perfect, spoken into existence, made and perfected in two days, always reliable, purposeful, perfect in timing,   it relies on no man, it’s free and available to all mankind, it controls the climate-warmth by day and cool by night, seasons, vegetation’s growth, length of days and light and darkness, it is always there, a sure thing, and provides energy.

God not only spoke the light for the world into existence, “God is light; in Him there is no darkness.” (1 John 1:5)

Then Jesus spoke to them again saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  (John 8:12 NKJ)

Are you walking in darkness, in the shadows or are you walking in the light?

If your walking in darkness ask God to shine His light and show you the path out of the darkness. He is waiting to hear from you.

If your walking in the light of Christ let that light shine for those around you who may be  walking in darkness that they may see the light of Christ and be saved through it.

 

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Words by Sue Cameron

0e5582366_1477946107_words-have-power

Is there anything more powerful?

To heal, to hurt,

to destroy?

Words in my mind-accusing me,

dragging me down

into guilt and helplessness.

Words from outside-attacking me,

tearing at the fragile image of who I am and hope to be.

I struggle under their heavy weight

and fear I’ll suffocate.

Not all words are true, but they feel true.

Some are lies wrought in the basement of hell,

sent to defeat those who march in the army of God.

My leader warned me of such warfare,

so subtle and hard to detect.

A sudden attack strips my defenses.

Wounded, bleeding,

I am left to die.

Now my fate depends on

to whom I choose to listen.

To the liar,

or to  my leader.

His Word consoles and strengthens me,

binding my pain and wrapping me in acceptance.

He does not condemn me in my weakness,

or require me to run on broken legs.

He asks only that I listen to him

and believe what he says.

His truth banishes falsehoods

and sets me free.

Living on the battlefield isn’t kind and gentle;

it is demanding and stretching.

I must often pause and ask myself,

To whose voice do I listen?

And in whose voice do I speak?

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I’m currently undergoing an education degree. Training to be a teacher. And throughout my first year, I learnt some of the qualities and disciplines required of a good teacher.

via Jesus: No Ordinary Teacher (Part 2) — Jonathan Camac

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A View From The Bird House

life-experiences-quotes

 

 

I am taking a cue from Jeff Goins on this post. His challenge to write something from a life experience got me to thinking of all the different life experiences this Grama has had, and there have been many.

 

Some life experiences were amazing and some frightening; some brought dreams to reality and some turned dreams to nightmares. But I have come to realize that every experience had its time and place in my life, each one brought with it life lessons and greater wisdom. Each one had a part in making me who I am today and none of them slipped in without my heavenly Father knowing it was coming. Many of them caught me by surprise but not my Father.

 

I am very much aware that people can have the same basic experience but have a very different view of what that experience holds for them, therefore some may react very differently than others do. But as I share my experience I will be sharing my own “View “From The Bird House” (also the name of my blog).

You see, my last name is Bird and has been since 1965 when I married the love of my life and so I have quite a collection of memories, both good and bad, that I could write about. Some of those memories of experiences were not appreciated as much when I was younger but with age I have begun to see God’s wisdom in bringing them and/or allowing them. Yes, for most wisdom, does come with age!

They brought wisdom for raising children, strengthening my marriage and so much more. Most of all they brought me to a closer relationship with my God!

But enough of the deep-thinking stuff. I would rather share my favorite experiences, the ones that just simply made me smile and even laugh out loud. Retelling those stories at family gatherings is one of our family’s favorite things to do. And when we do we all laugh like it just happened yesterday and some of these stories are over forty years old. They are those stories that bring on those deep-down-belly-laughing fits that bring tears to your eyes.

Love them!

Now as you all know there are experiences that we laugh hysterically about now but weren’t all that funny at the time they happened, but over the years we begin to see the humor in them (another advantage to ageing).

The one that stands out in my mind the most is and experience with our first-born grandson, who was three or four at the time. His mother, our daughter, had recently given birth to her second child, a little girl and they were all visiting at our home. Our daughter had gone to do something in another room and I was tending the kids.

I was holding the baby and began a conversation that I would soon regret and never forget. I asked my grandson how he liked his little sister and reminded him this is the little baby that was in mommy’s tummy. His response blew me away and it was my first lesson as a grama about being careful what you ask a toddler.

He got very serious and looked me in the eye with his eyes growing bigger and said “I know and I used to be in my mommy’s tummy too!” Not knowing enough to quit while I was ahead I continued this “cute” conversation and it went like this:

Me — I know, what do you think it was like in there?

Grandson – Getting more serious and raising both arms in the air making a big circle he said; “Grama, there was sperm everywhere and I was afraid, but they said” as he changed his voice to a gentler tone “Don’t worry little boy we won’t hurt you. We are going to help you get out of your egg. But then I got stuck in my mommy’s gina and they had to cut me out of her tummy but my sister didn’t get stuck so she came out of mommy’s gina.”

I was speechless! And that doesn’t happen often.

I immediately called for my daughter and shared this revelation that her son had shared with me. Her explanation was that she and her husband had been watching a program called Nova a few days before and it was showing microscopic films of sperm traveling to the ova, or egg, and how they penetrated the egg to release the embryo. Added to that; our grandson had been asking how his sister got out of mommy’s tummy and our daughter, believing you should use correct anatomical terms, explained in simple terms her birth. When he asked if he got here the same way they explained that he kind of got stuck so they had to make a cut in her tummy to get him out.

That grandson will be 29 this year and that story is still being told much to his chagrin. But he is a good sport because he has a little boy and knows he will soon have some stories of his own to tell.

Lesson Learned: Don’t underestimate the ability of a toddler to put one and one together and get two. And take note of what your watching on TV with your toddler there, they are much smarter than you know.

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Is Christianity Dead?

An amazing insight for every Christian!

BeautyBeyondBones

Well folks, another Christmas is in the books!

Christmas 2K16 is officially behind us. The eggnog has been consumed. Gifts gifted. Food coma endured. And for those brave souls who took on a real tree this year, its pine needles are officially all over the floor and will be mysteriously appearing in randomcrevicesfor the next 4 months.

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Ever since I was of “appropriate age,” my family has always gone to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. It is one of my favorite memories and traditions. The caroling at 11pm. The candles. The trumpets. For the past, say, 15+ years, we have been going, and every year, we’d always get there right at 11:00, throwing elbows, and staking out our pew, as it is always standing room only. And don’t even bother coming at 11:15…because there will be no parking and you’re guaranteed to be standing – two deep – in the…

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