Category Archives: Family

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!

Leave a comment

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

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under assignment, Children, communication, enjoyment, Family

Phony Ponies and Brass Rings

Dennis the Menace

Have you, like Dennis, ever found yourself on one of those rides that are fun but don’t really get you anywhere. I can think of several: the Merry-Go-Round, the Ferris Wheel, the Tilt-A-Whirl or the pony rides at the fair where the ponies are harnessed together and just travel in a circle. Or, in these days, it may be watching reality shows, (that are anything but reality) or gaming on the TV,  the computer or a cell phone. All of these can be exciting, tickle our tummies, give us a thrill and a rush of adrenaline. And we may even get the elusive brass ring on one of those trips around on the carousel or reach level 377 on one of the games. I think my husband has about 3 million dollars in play money in his Poker Mafia account right now. If only  that were a reality!

Then the ride comes to a stop, and the show or game is over. The excitement begins to fade and we may be left feeling a little dizzy or maybe a little nauseated from the spinning. It was so much fun but soon the thrill is gone and we are off looking for the next fun ride, game or reality show. When it’s all said and done we have had a lot of fun but haven’t actually gotten anywhere.

Now don’t get me wrong, I always loved the thrill of a fun ride as much as the next person and I like a little TV entertainment and a good “Words With Friends” or “Trivia Crack” game. A trip to an amusement park is a lot of fun and I have had many of those trips to parks and fairs that have provided  many great family memories. But when we leave we are exhausted and can’t wait to get home and get some rest. Even fun can be exhausting!

The problem begins when we don’t know when to get off the phony pony or realize the brass ring is only a souvenir and not the answer to our future. At some point the park closes and the lights go out and we have to go home. The show is over, we reach the max level and/or the max number of points in the game. But in our own real world, called the game of life, nothing changes. We make no advances where life really matters, we have nothing to show that matters in the game of life which will include eternity.

The problem is when we keep going in circles and never leave the “Amusement Park”. When we  become obsessed with always looking for the next exciting ride that will offer us a big thrill or a bigger prize; the next level to be conquer,  more points  to earn. We find we are still alternating between the  merry-go-rounds and the roller coasters in life but without the brass rings, the prizes or the points.

And so what’s a person to do?

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy“.  (Maria Edgeworth)

The answer? Balance and all things in moderation!

The Bible makes it clear that God wants us to enjoy life and work hard to have a productive life here and that will extend into eternity.

 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Genesis 2:15)
Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:3)

Are you a little our of balance these days? Maybe it isn’t to much play but maybe it’s to much work?

Are you spending more time with the phony ponies and reaching for the brass rings than striving for the prizes that will last?

The little Dennis cartoon above has given me food for thought and called me to do some evaluating in this area for sure!

How about you?

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under enjoyment, Family, fun, play, Uncategorized, value, Work

When The Path Is Unclear

 

cliff overhang

I generally don’t give much sway to my dreams however I woke one morning, not long ago, troubled by a dream in which I was walking on a path along a pleasant, sandy shoreline when gradually, the path began to narrow then suddenly it disappeared. As I looked around there was water as far as I could see on my right and in front of me it snuggled up close to the towering cliff on my left. My claustrophobia kicked in and  I began to feel very anxious.

I turned quickly to take the path back however it had become narrow as well and the cliff now was stretching out over the water.The path had also become rocky and difficult to navigate.

The obstacles in front of me seemed insurmountable and I feared going forward.  The narrow, rocky path going back was very difficult at  best.  My fear of water and heights kept me from going forward and my fear of the pain and difficulty I might experience on the path behind me kept me from going back. I felt trapped. Anxiety became all out panic and I woke with a start.

I was grateful to be awake and realize it was only a dream but later as I began my morning routine I still felt restless and even a little anxious. I couldn’t get the dream out of my head.

In preparation for my morning devotions my thoughts drifted back to the path in the dream. I suddenly realized how similar it was to the path I was on in my life lately. The anxiety and panic in the dream was similar to what I had been feeling all to often these days.

My husband and I had been sensing God’s call for us to relocate to Macon, Georgia to serve for a year at Hephzibah Children’s Home and to be part of a new church plant in Macon. We had worked at the children’s home for years but only for a couple of weeks each year. This time it would be for a year.

We had already begun preparations two years before because God impressed on us that a change was coming and we needed to get out of debt. We sold our home and found a rental house. We paid off our credit cards and did some major downsizing. We signed a lease for one year on the rental feeling we would have time to pray about what God had in mind for us. During that year God made it clear that we were to go to Macon. Though I wanted to go and was excited about the possibility of being part of these ministries the thought of being so far from family, especially our grandchildren, had kept me from making the commitment and taking those final steps of faith I needed to take.

The year was up, the lease was up and it was decision time! Taking the path forward would mean leaving our family and friends and most of our belongings 950 miles behind not knowing for sure what all would be waiting for us in Georgia or what would happen at the end of that year. But to stay would mean taking a painful path back of starting over from scratch.  I knew I would always wonder what could have happened if we had gone.

In the dream I had focused on the obstacles and fear kept me from going in either direction. I began to understand that I had to look past the obstacles and move forward, trusting God for whatever lie ahead. I also  realized that to refuse and turn back would be to live in fear of moving forward as well as to live in defeat. As I looked past what I saw as obstacles on the path it became clear. I had waited on God for direction, He had given me confirmation and now He had made it clear that I should take the next step in moving forward. God would give me a place to put my foot now and for the next step after that when I needed it. I needed only to stayed focused on Him.

We have been in Georgia for almost four months now and we certainly miss our family, but  are in contact with them regularly. God has blessed us to be able to go home for a visit already and we will also be able to go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas and return to finish our year commitment after the holidays. The blessings we receive as we serve the Children’s Home and the Church are more than we could have imagined.

None of the things I feared came to pass. We haven’t missed a thing we sold or left behind, except our kids of course! 🙂  And we are actually planning on down-sizing even more in the future when we return home.

Yes, there was so much more beyond the end of the path that was visible!

What path are you on?

What obstacle do you see that keep you from moving forward?

What struggle would you face by going back or not moving at all?

Look up my friend! Look up!

God is ready and waiting to clear the path for you to take that next important step that will put you in the center of His will.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”              Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

:

3 Comments

Filed under Dreams, faith stages, Family, peace, Promises, self-examination