Tag Archives: blessings

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

“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.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Darkness, enjoyment, faith stages, Light, Peaceful, Weary encouragement hope

Are We Counting What Really Counts

church stats 2

For those of us that attend church on a regular basis or even those who are occasional attenders we probably all remember seeing one of the “Attendance and Offering Registers” hanging in a prominent place on the wall for everyone to see.

I often wondered just what purpose they served and have come to the conclusion that this information served two purposes depending on whether the current tally was a plus or a minus: 1. To encourage and/or  2. To motivate.

Now please don’t get all fired up and send me nasty-grams!

As one who has been a part of a church leadership team I do understand the importance and purpose of having attendance records and keeping track of finances. They both give leadership a measurable picture of where the church is headed and how to proceed. It helps to know how to plan to meet the needs of ministry in the most productive way  so that we honor God with the resources He supplies. I also understand that it’s good to have that same information available to the congregation to encourage them and to make them aware of where we are in our growth and finances, or lack of, and for financial accountability.

However what I don’t understand is why we don’t have a “Soul Register”? Isn’t our first priority to see souls come to Christ; to find salvation? And isn’t that the greatest measure of where we are spiritually and our success as the local body of believers?   Yet we don’t put up the stats for the number of souls saved as a result of ministry and sharing our faith, the Gospel.

It has been said by many in the leadership of the church that “It’s not about numbers, it’s about souls.” and I agree with that, however it is about the number of souls being saved.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

So why are they not counted on our church’s public registers? I can’t think of anything that should motivate  us more. Maybe we need to see those numbers and just maybe it would motivate us to step out in faith and share the message of salvation more often. God will provide the opportunities in our ministries in the church and individually, it is up to us to take advantage of them, and may it begin with “me”.

What do you think your church’s “Soul Register” would look like if you had one?

There is a register in heaven of all the souls saved and the angels rejoice over each and every one that comes to Christ, shouldn’t we?

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, communication, responsibility, value

3 Essential Truths of Prayer: Reclaiming Ancient Paths – Seedbed

David Hull shares three essential truths of prayer that are guaranteed to change the way you view your prayer life.

Source: 3 Essential Truths of Prayer: Reclaiming Ancient Paths – Seedbed

Leave a comment

Filed under communication, faith stages, quiet, self-examination, Uncategorized

Connecting the Dots

 

connect_the_dots

In the process of learning it is the analogies and object lessons that help me learn the most, for they put a principle into simple practical pictures that I can see and relate to.

My favorite analogy of all time is found in the book, Hind’s Feet On High Places, by Hannah Hurnard. It pictures a young girl named “Much Afraid” and her spiritual journey through the difficulties of life with her companions “Sorrow” and “Suffering”. With the Shepherd’s help she overcomes her fears and facing danger and discouragements, Much Afraid, is ultimately united with the loving Shepherd in the “High Places” where she is given a new name and a ministry to those who remain in “The Valley of Suffering”.

You’ll have to read the book to know the rest!

In my meditations today, reading from Streams In The Desert (compiled by L.B. Cowman and edited by James Reimann) I found an object lesson that also helped me to relate to the evils and/or struggles that confront us.

For those who have ever asked “Why me?”, Why now?”, “Why again?” (for I have asked those questions many times) and especially for those who know God and understand that nothing comes to one of His own that doesn’t pass by Him first,  I am posting  portions of that selection from Streams In The Desert for July 23rd, and they follow:

I once saw a man draw some black dots on a piece of paper. Several of us looked at it yet saw nothing but an irregular arrangement of dots. Then he also drew a few lines, put in a few rests, and added a treble clef at the beginning. Suddenly we realized that the dots were musical notes, and as we began to sound them out, we were singing,

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him all creatures here below.”

It is difficult for us to understand, at times, why God allows those “black dots or spots” in the lives of His children. They often seem to come at the worst times, unexpected times and we ask “Why me?”, “Why now?”, Why again?”, and “Why did He permit them?”

But when we allow Him into our life to adjust the dots in the proper way, to draw the lines He desires, and to put rests at the proper places to separate us from certain things, then from the black dots and spots He will compose a glorious harmony. C. H. P

When an organist presses the black keys of a great organ, the notes are just as beautiful as when he presses the white ones. Yet to fully demonstrate the capabilities of the instrument, he must press them all. ” (selected)

Many people owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.” Charles H. Spurgeon

As we look back over time and begin to “connect the dots” we will begin to see a picture of God’s hand at work in our lives as He creates a beautiful harmony from the events in our lives. A picture of the loving Shepherd, and His grand purpose for us and we can sing, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow”, in spite of what is going on in our lives.

I challenge you to look for the dots, the lines, the rests. Look for God’s hand at work in it all and praise Him for the work He is doing in your life to help you fulfill His purpose and plans for your life and His kingdom and glory!

“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 (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under faith stages, music, Weary encouragement hope

Life Strategies, Hard Questions

Hard questions

Have you ever wished you could talk with a loved one who has gone home to be with the Lord?

Recently, I was actually challenged with some “hard questions” posed to me by my sister Lois from her own last days on this earth. No,  she didn’t contact me in an audible voice or as a spirit but through her journals, that I was blessed to end up with after her death.

I have had these journals for many years and had scanned through them on occasion but recently was drawn back to them during a time of questioning about my own life and wishing I could talk with her. Suddenly, one particular page jumped out at me challenging me to evaluate my own life strategies with the following “hard questions.”

1.  Am I really headed where I want to go or am I wandering around with no purpose failing to seek God’s purpose for my life?

2. Is what I’m doing today really what God wants me to be doing and gifted me for, or am I “doing” to please others?

3. Do I really have a God-given strategy in my life or am I allowing someone else’s strategy to guide me?

4. Do I make initial assumptions because of what I want to be true or am I seeking God’s truth?

5. Do I practice deceptive and/or manipulative behaviors to have things my way ?

6. Am I in denial about anything in my life or am I allowing God to search me and know me, all of me, to reveal anything in me that is not right and help me follow him in His truth?

My Sister was asking these same hard questions in her last days on this earth as she was bedridden with Emphysema and I find them challenging me today.

I have been blessed with two great lessons through this experience.

First, I believe my sister would have wanted me to search for the answers to these questions earlier on than she did and to know a part of her heart that she had not had the opportunity to share with me before she went to Heaven.

And secondly, as I have been feeling that my journaling and blogging are not all that important to anyone but me, now  I can see how God can use  “journaling” in whatever form we may put it (a journal, a blog, writing a book, or even a personal note to someone) to help someone else who may be struggling with the same things we struggle with bringing hope to them as they see the victory God will give for our good and His glory.

I may, and most likely won’t, ever be a famous blogger or writer but as I ask myself these questions I am finding that the love of study and writing is a gift God has given me. It is my hope that one day something that challenged me will challenge someone else to ask the hard questions and find God’s purpose for them.

And my sister Lois, Well, I know from her other journals that she faced these questions , answered them and surrendered it all to her heavenly Father, who gave her His grace, wisdom and strength to accept the things she couldn’t change and to change the things she could and to know His peace in and through it all even into eternity.

And today all her questions are answered and are yes Lord yes!

I challenge you to not wait until your last days to ask the hard questions! Start today for it is the first day of your remaining days on this earth!

For He (God) says, “In a favorable time I listened to you and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” (Isaiah 49:8) Behold, now is the favorable time; behold now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)

4 Comments

Filed under faith stages, humility, self-examination

Lessons From a 4 Year Old

Evan Rockin On !

Last week I was on the patio watching our 4 year old, very lively, grandson, Evan, playing in the yard. While he ran around getting rid of some of his energy I took advantage of the time at the patio table to write in my journal and talk with God about a prayer request I had received that morning. After a few minutes Evan stopped on one of his passes by the patio and asked me, “What are you doin Grama?” I explained to him that there were some people who had some problems and I was praying for them and asking God to help them to know what to do.  I asked if he wanted to pray with me and he said yes and bowed his little head and remained quiet until the Amen and then ran off to resume running around the yard and playing.

I then proceeded to get out my phone to look at my schedule for the coming week and once again Evan came over and asked “What are you doin now Grama?” and from there it went like this:

Evan: “What are you doin now Grama?”

Me: “Just looking at all the things I have to do next week and trying to figure out how I can get it all done.”

Evan: “Why don’t you just ask God?”

We went to prayer together again but this time as I was praying I heard Evan say his own prayer.

Evan: “God help Grama!”

Lesson learned: We often pray for others to have God meet their needs and  encourage them to believe He will but then turn around and attempt to meet our own needs without seeking Him first.

God, help Grama!

Thank you Evan, God and Grama love you!!!

“Therefore Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”   Matthew 18:4

2 Comments

Filed under Children, communication, humility