Tag Archives: listening

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

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

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

From Frustrated Perfectionist to Perfect Melancholy!

WARNING! This may be the worst blog you ever read!

Today I am just writing what is on my mind. No planning, or thinking it all through first (as I am sure you can tell) Just writing, writing, writing and hoping that what I am working through might be of help to someone in the blogosphere or on facebook who may struggle with spinning their wheels and going nowhere.

I have been labeled, by some a perfectionist and even by a few obsessive/compulsive about it. However as I look around there seems to be a great deal of imperfection, both in and around me.

So what’s the deal here?

My intentions are good…I’m going to organize my stuff, I’m going to finish that book, finish that cross stitch I started (5 yrs ago, mind you).  I’m going to make a schedule and a to-do list for the week (and stay on it for a change), cook better meals, work on a better budget and start writing on my blog every day. Meanwhile, it all seems so daunting that by the time I get the lists made and the plans made , and re-made I end up getting very little of it done, if any.

Then I say to myself, “Self”, I say, “it’s to hard, you don’t have enough time, your no spring chicken anymore, you will just never be able to do it,” and the best of all “I’m to busy  with all the ‘urgent’ needs every day”  So I am forever planning, preparing and organizing but never actually getting the things that are important done allowing the urgent to take precedence over the important.

Heavy sigh!

What’s a woman to do?

In my striving to do better I have accepted an offer of a spiritual coach to work with me to help me move forward, find God’s direction and get on the right track. The first goal is to know what my gifts and abilities, as well as what my limitations really are. She provided me with a personality test and a giftedness test which has helped me to understand better who I am and how God made me to function in the gifts and abilities He has given me. It appears that I am what is called a “Perfect Melancholy”, and no it does not mean I am perfect or necessarily melancholy (check out “Wired That Way, Personality Profile” (Marita  & Florence Littauer). But it does give me some insight into the whys and ways that I work and respond in different circumstances and what my strengths and weaknesses tend to be.

Through discussions with a dear friend and my spiritual coach I have come to recognize some of my own self defeating behaviors, like, making unrealistic demands on my time and on others, making unrealistic to-do lists, making commitments to projects and/or other requests without thinking them through and praying about them first, and allowing others to dictate my schedule. This led me to make some commitments to my friend, my coach and myself. One commitment was to begin writing again. Therefore I am writing, not listing what I might write about or planning what I will write about, just writing.

The challenge started last Monday and I did spend an hour on my blog, however the whole hour was spent looking at my blog site, reading and comparing others blogs, and thinking and planning what I should blog about.. But alas, I never actually wrote anything!

Today is a new day and I am writing!

I will be writing on my blog for one hour or more twice a week and I welcome my blogging friends to come back and check out my progress and hold me accountable as well! I look forward to your encouragement and your suggestions to help me be a better writer.

My goal is to go from Frustrated Perfectionist to Perfect Melancholy.

What personality are you? I urge you to learn more about yourself and the gifts and abilities God has given you.

What goals do you have? What commitments are you willing to make to reach your goals?

Do you have a friend or friends whom you will give permission to hold you accountable to your commitments?

I would like to hear about them!

JB

3 Comments

Filed under character study, communication, faith stages, Weary encouragement hope

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

To Whomever May Relate

 

communications

???????

COMMUNICATION


To Whomever May Relate

Errors in communication have been the source of many a problem for centuries. At times they have caused down-right disasters. But in the Bird household they are often just a source of irritation, inconvenience, and sometimes laughter. And they often produce stories that are passed down from generation to generation.

The following conversations show just a small sample of the result of mis-communication. All of the incidents are true, but names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

Ice Cubes

MOM – (all set for a cold drink on a hot day and now agitated)”Who took the last ice cubes and didn’t replenish them?”

SALLY (teen age daughter, seemingly oblivious to Mom’s agitation) – “I did.”

MOM – ( more agitated) Why didn’t you put the ice cube trays back in the freezer to make more?

SALLY – (seriously trying to defend herself) “Because they were empty and you told us not to put them back in the freezer empty.”

??????

————————————————————————————————————————–

Out of the mouths of Babes

After a discussion where my husband and I were complaining about paying taxes our daughter, a kindergartner at the time, asked what happens if you don’t pay the taxes? We responded, they will take away our house.

SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER – “Does anyone have any prayer requests today?”

NANCY – “I do, if we don’t pay our taxes they are going to take our house away from us.”

After the service: We were approached by the Pastor.

PASTOR – (Very concerned)”We would like to offer some assistance to help you financially.”

ME – (very confused) “Well things have been tight but we are ok, really.”

PASTOR – (Very convinced) “I know it is hard to accept help but your daughter shared the concern that you can’t pay your taxes and may lose your home with her Sunday School teacher.”

I tried to explain but I’m not sure I ever really convinced him it was a mistake?

???????

—————————————————————————————————————————

He Said, She Heard – She Said, He Heard

ME – (to spouse) “I need your help getting the garage cleaned today, winter is coming and we need to be able to out the car in.”

SPOUSE – “We can do that tomorrow.”

ME – “If we don’t do it today it won’t get done.”

SPOUSE – “Remind me tomorrow.”

Next day:

ME – “Don’t forget we are cleaning the garage today.”

SPOUSE – “I know, you don’t have to keep reminding me.”

???????

———————————————————————————————————————————-

BEST OF ALL! Telling on myself.

SPOUSE – (out of town/on the phone) “Don’t forget to check the oil in the car.”

ME – “I don’t know how to check the oil in the car!”

SPOUSE – “You just pull the dip stick out, wipe it off, put it back in and then pull it back out and look to see how many marks the oil is below the full line. Then put that many quarts in using the spout that is by the oil.”

ME – “What is a dip stick?”

SPOUSE – Hesitates, then explains where it is and what it looks like.

ME – (later in the day on the phone to spouse) “Something is really wrong with the car.”

SPOUSE- “Why? Did you put the oil in?”

ME – “Yes, but it wasn’t as easy as you said. The spout you told me to use was way to big and some of the oil spilled. It wouldn’t hold the quart of oil the stick said it needed. And when I started it to go to the store it started smoking under the hood terrible. Something must be wrong with it.”

SPOUSE – “Have Joe (our mechanic) look at it.”

JOE – “There is oil all over the motor.”

ME – “I know, the oil spout thing was to big for the opening where the oil goes and some spilled.”

JOE – “Which opening did you use?”

ME – “Well the one where the dip stick is. That’s where the oil is, duh!”

JOE – laughing uncontrollably

“Was it something I said??????”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under assignment, communication, Word Press