Tag Archives: joy

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

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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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

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What About Bob?

What about Bob

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.”
― Flavia Weedn

 

For a writing assignment I was asked to do a character study of the most interesting person I had met in the last year and to shape that study into a portrait, not with paint on a canvas but with letters forming words on paper. As I searched my memory, which would resemble searching a card catalog in the library at my age, I thought of those I have met. There was the past president of World Hope, the missionary couple from Sierra Leone, Africa and a well known Fox News contributor, but my heart and mind kept saying, “What about Bob?”

I have picked the pseudo name, “Professor Bob” to protect the privacy of this individual.

I actually have never had the pleasure of meeting Professor Bob in person. I had signed up for his correspondence course on Christian Education as my last requirement for my studies in the ministry. As in all the course work I was given his address, email and phone number and been invited to call or email if I had any questions or concerns about the course. But it wasn’t until that first phone call for help that I really met Bob.

When he answered the phone I could sense in his voice there was a smile on his face. When I told him who I was he responded with the excitement he might have had when hearing from an old friend he hadn’t spoken to for years. Now, I have never had an instructor be unkind but this extravagant greeting caught me so off guard I almost forgot why I called.

As I explained to him my questions and concerns about the assignments he listened intently interrupting only to encourage me to continue. He thanked me for calling and responded by reiterating what he felt I was saying, validating my concerns. His voice was pleasant, caring and cheerful. He set me at ease immediately as he asked me a few questions and then went on to explain just what he was looking for in the assignment. He also shared some of  his own experiences in Christian Education, both his success and failures and what he had learned from them. Professor Bob took time to listen to my struggles and promised we would work together so that I would not just pass the course but would be able to develop an effective Christian Education program as a result. After that first conversation, I believed his promise!

I could tell that this man was dedicated to going above and beyond his duty to help his students. Though I had never actually seen him, his voice gave me the picture of a man who had it all together and was fulfilling his dream of doing what he loved, teaching. A jolly fellow of sorts. His words assured me I could feel confident in my abilities to succeed. He was, in my mind, full of life and joy and was living out his dream.

What I didn’t get from at our first encounter, but found out later, was the fact that Professor Bob had some struggles of his own. He did indeed have a passion for teaching and in fact had worked in youth ministry for many years teaching young people, he had become a leader in Christian Education and now was teaching at a college level. But his passion had been sidelined to some extent by some extremely difficult physical challenges due to an incurable illness. He felt he had been “put on the shelf” for a time but then shared positive lessons he had learned while sitting on that shelf.

In later conversations he  related some of those physical challenges to me. And as time passed he also spoke of some of his struggle and fears because of them. But he would always finish the conversation on a positive note by touting how much he had to be thankful for and how many opportunities his illness had given him to encourage others in their faith. And always at the end of the conversation I went away encouraged by him.

My course work took nine months to complete and over that nine months there would be many conversations where we would share our victories and our defeats, both professionally and personally. In that nine months we became friends. We connected on Facebook and I would finally get to see and know my friend even better in photos posted of his family and hobbies and through the post made by other friends, and there are many. But never once did he voice complaints and often I would see where he encouraged others in their struggles even though they paled in comparison to his. There were many, including me, who thanked him for taking the time to listen and encourage them over the years.

Professor Bob remains a friend and we continue our conversations even though the course work is completed. I am inspired by this man who, in the midst of physical struggles and uncertainty, puts others ahead of himself. How in spite of his physical limitations and uncertainty about his future he still finds joy in living and serving the Lord as he seeks to reach out to encourage others.

This man has “moved my soul to dance” and awakened me “to a new understanding with a passing whisper” of his wisdom. He has left his “footprint” on my heart.

Thank you Professor Bob!

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

 ~Author Unknown

 

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