TO-DO LIST

Standard

Today is Sunday. I started the day by teaching first graders about forgiveness followed by attending a church service, all while my mind was racing with the things on my (what seems like) never-ending TO DO list.

We all know this list like the back of our right hand: Wash dishes, put in the 9th load of laundry, fold the 8th load of laundry, put them away in the designated (some times color coded) spots, grocery shop, (Oh shoot, I forgot to add write grocery list onto my list!), complete homework, prep and make dinner, vacuum (basement, middle, upper floor and stairs), clean refrigerator, scoop dog droppings, clean out the car, get the garbage and recycle ready for tomorrow morning, and how could I forget my favorite (enter sarcasm here) chores…scrub the floors and wash dishes! Then to attempt tackling these chores with three children under the age of seven tugging on you saying, “I’m hungry,” “I’m bored,” “I’m thirsty,” “He hit me.” “MOOOMMMMMM!!!!”
Days like today when my to-do list is sky high I wonder how I will ever have time to be a mother. I feel the suffocation building up as I race against the clock as it is, I can’t imagine adding diaper changings, feedings, etc. into the agenda. While scrubbing dishes some 30 minutes ago, I felt God working in me, letting me know that it’s okay to slow down.

It
is
Okay
To
Slow
Down.

 

I turned the water off, with the suds still on the dishes, and sat on the couch. The sun pounded its glorious rays against my face. Until now, I hadn’t really realized that The Lord gave me a beautiful, warm Spring day to enjoy. My mind wanders. I think about the different ways He has blessed me, I think about the Sunday school lesson I taught this morning on Forgiveness and pray that I opened the eyes and hearts of those little ones…. My mind sticks here. Forgiveness. How have I been forgiven? How have I forgiven others? How have I not forgiven others? When have I missed out, stuck in my stubbornness, and failed to apologize and ask for forgiveness?

 

Again, I feel the presence of God… “Slow down.”

 

It isn’t just the chores that I am racing. I’m treating life as if it is a sprint, focusing solely on the finish line and failing to see the beauty: the fans cheering, the breeze, the sunshine, the opportunity to run with and help the others in their race. It isn’t about me.

It’s about us.

It’s about helping.

It’s about teamwork.
It’s about love and sacrifice.

It’s about forgiveness and hope.

It’s about glory…

God’s glory.

 

 

I heard this the other night and it stuck with me. I encourage you to read it slowly and again. “My people, what have I done to you or in what way have I offended you? Answer me. What more should I have done, and did not do? I led you out of the land of Egypt and you prepared a cross for me. I opened the Red Sea before you and you opened my side with a lance. I gave you a royal scepter and you have given me a crown of thorns. With great power I lifted you up, and you have hung me on a cross. My people, what have I done to you, or in what have I offended you? Answer me.”

My eyes flood just thinking about doing this to Jesus (consciously and subconsciously) through my words and actions.

Gossip
Revenge
Resentment
Deceit
Disobedience
Anger
Bitterness
Hate
Hate
Hate.

 

 

Today is Sunday.
A day of rest and a day of worship.
A day of reflection and a day of growth.
A fresh start to the week.
A new chance at making Godly choices, spreading His Love, and blessing others.

 

I rip my to-do list to tiny shreds and start fresh with my pad of paper and pen… this time noting:

  1. Count Blessings
  2. Forgiveness
  3. Worship

 

 

 

 

Genesis2:2-By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
Exodus 20:8-Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy

A Call for Help

Standard

I initially wasn’t going to post anything about this “good deed” story in fear that people would mix up the reason for sharing and consider it boasting or bragging. However, God has put it on my heart for over 24 hours, urging me to share and hopefully reach out, touch, and inspire the hearts of the reader…. The heart that’s beating inside of you.

 

Last Saturday was like any typical day in January- snowy and cold. My fiancé and I were driving back from my niece and nephew’s hockey tournament some 30 miles from home. While driving, a black car in the ditch of a driveway caught my eye. As we got closer I noticed a person on their hands and knees shoveling. Just like everyone else, we drove by. However, unlike everyone else, God’s calling to use me to help this person couldn’t go unanswered.  “We have to go help him,” I said to my fiancé.

“Are you serious? You want me to turn around?”

Without hesitation and knowing God the minute I felt Him working in me, an immediate “Yes” leaped from my lips.

We backtracked to find the house where the car was buried.

“Do you want some help?” I shouted from inside the car.

He turned and looked, still digging on the snow. He stared at us as if we were aliens. The old, grayed man tried getting up a few times, stumbling and trying to catch himself. Our eyes connected and I could see the exhaustion and pain in his eyes. He did not have to respond, I knew we could not leave this man until we pulled his car out and he was inside getting warm.

We threw our hazard lights on, I looked in the backseat for gloves, a hat, boots, anything, really. Coming up empty handed, my fiancé and I gave each other a high five and knew that God would equip us with whatever we needed to complete this task.

As we made our way closer to the man, he stood, legs shaking, and began repeating “Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes…” The look of exhaustion and pain slowly turned to hope. He was no longer fighting this alone. I got closer and asked if he had another shovel.

“It’s like he’s had a stroke or something,” my fiancé whispered to me.

This man was taking extra time responding and mumbling the answers. He seemed weak, drained, confused. For a moment, I shared in his confusion. I was confused as to how long he had been out here, and how not a single car had stopped to help. I was baffled; to watch nearly a hundred cars drive by in just our 20 short minutes of pushing his car out, and knowing just 1 out of the hundreds (depending on how long he had been out there) took the time to spread God’s love. We all would hope/expect others to stop and offer assistance if our car was in the ditch, but when roles are reversed, we suddenly and conveniently do not have enough time or have some other excuse: I have kids in the car, I don’t have gloves or a shovel, etc. We did not have gloves or a shovel, either, and I know we cannot wait to model Godly acts of kindness in front of our children.

My fiancé and I began pushing the car back with the man in the drivers seat. It was not budging. We tried again, this time throwing up a “God, please help us, give us the strength.” Suddenly, the car began rocking- we went with it and were able to push the car out.

Success.

Triumph.

Victory.

Rejoicing.

Laughter.

Hugs.

Tears.

Tears.

Tears.

 

The man seemed overwhelmed with joy and happiness. It was the first time I saw the sparkle in his eye and smile on his face. He nearly fell to his wobbling knees thanking us. He pulled me in and squeezed me tightly.

“God bless you,” I whispered to him.

“God! Yes! God!” He responded.

As we drove off, he stood in his driveway with an enormous smile, saluting us. He did not move until our car was out of sight. He was so thankful, and so were we. Every morning I ask God to use me however He sees fit. I could’ve chosen to ignore the calling when I felt it, as perhaps many did that day. I am choosing to live my life for God. I feel blessed that He chose to use me, and I feel blessed to have a fiancé that had the car turned around the minute I was feeling called to help.

God wants to use YOU. Open your heart, invite Him in, and allow Him to use you to make a difference.

 

“Don’t ask God to guide your footsteps if you aren’t willing to move your feet.Image

It Takes One to Know One.

Standard

My heart feels heavy.

My mind is clouded.

 I don’t have any clever or fancy words to spice things up, just the ones bouncing on the walls of my (what feels like) empty soul.

So take my venting rampage for what it is. Maybe you will relate and not feel so alone. Maybe we can pray for each other and God will touch our hearts and heal the brokenness. Please God, heal the brokenness.

 

My past has been calling… filling my ear with who I used to be; choices I have made, relationships I have had, ugly words that have so effortlessly flowed from my mouth…unfortunately, the list goes on. Sadly, this was all while I was claiming to be such a stand-up Christian. I confessed Jesus as my Savior, said a quick prayer before bed (when I remembered), and was doing my weekly duty on Sunday… that put me in perfect standing with God, right?  

Wrong.

 

“Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens [hard to carry] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them…” Matthew 23:3

When my past calls and I answer, the same powerful word is whispered repeatedly:
“Hypocrite!”

A pit of emptiness forms in my heart. I quickly become strong acquaintances with embarrassment and shame. Numerous instances in which I have been a religious hypocrite flood my mind and stay a while. I am beyond embarrassed and humiliated by the way I carried myself and represented God in my last relationship. I gained sick pleasure out of being cold and saying hurtful things to him. Something about soaking up all of his love that he gave so generously while giving none of my own (probably because it was a sour, empty love) made me feel on top, as if I had the control. Little did I know, I was the one on bottom, losing out on a strong friendship with such an amazing person. Even above that, I could not fully live in God’s graces while I had so much bitterness and ugliness flowing so effortlessly through my lips and actions. I gave love a bad name, and for the last year I have been searching endlessly for some way, somehow, some words, some gifts, that would show my genuineness, humility, and deepest apologies to this man that had continuously been there for me. I felt the strong urge to repair my character, my self-image. After countless failed efforts, it was clear to me that my image wasn’t the one that should be on the top of my list of priorities. I deserved the bad name and the ruined reputation. God, however, did not. I spent a reckless year preaching but not practicing. I was the hypocrite Jesus speaks so clearly to in the book of Matthew.

 

“He who reviles his neighbor has no sense, but the intelligent man keeps silent.” Proverbs 12:12

Needless to say, I had very little intelligence.  I allowed myself to be in situations where I participated in gossip, all while I received the body and blood of Jesus on Sundays, and claimed to be such a firm Christian the rest of the week. There I was again, throwing others under the bus to gain some control, to feel like I was liked and accepted by others. For what cost? Jesus died on the cross for me and this is how I chose to say “Thank You?” Now, looking back, I am ashamed. Today, I would rather have God on my side and no friends versus a thousand fake, manipulative, back-stabbing, gossip spreading “friends”.  

 

“So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2Corinthians5:17

I’m not where I need to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.

I am thankful for the opportunity to die to my old self and leave my past and all of its empty promises and bitterness behind.  I am thankful for a loving a forgiving God. I am so thankful for the new, positive outlook on this beautiful gift of life.

 

I read a quote recently that stuck with me and applies completely:
“When the past calls, let it go to voicemail. It doesn’t have anything new to say.”

Get BETTER not BITTER!

Standard

 “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2Corithians12:10

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Complaining really gets under my skin. Unfortunately, many Christians are complainers. They grumble and complain about coworkers in the work place, situations in the church, their child’s performance at school, finances, the weather, the list goes on. Complainers focus on the negative and concentrate on how miserable their life is. Complaining can be constructive, however, when we are using it to reveal growth, perseverance, progression, and God’s love.

 

-A few days ago I hit two cute little deer about 600 feet from my house. Smashed my headlight out and my passenger side door is permanently shut. The deer was even so kind enough to leave some fur on the front of my car leaving my preschool friends asking if my car could fly.
-A couple days ago I had some heavy problems at work, my car died, and I tore something in my knee leaving me to crawl up and down the stairs on my bottom, and shattered a glass I had been saving all over the kitchen.
-Yesterday I had a massive migraine which left black, fuzzy dots in my vision, had a horrible case of bus sickness and had to lean my head out the frosty window on the way to Wolverine, and got a flat tire while driving.
– Today I got called into work leaving me with 10 minutes to jump out of bed, shower, and be in the classroom. No time for breakfast or to pack a lunch. I also forgot my basketball shoes for practice. Later, I got my car stuck so deeply in snow. With my luck, of course I did not have boots, snow pants, or a hat.
-Over the last few weeks at the Good Samaritan, our freezer shut down, ice was piling up on the roof, the truck had a flat tire, the price of food went up, Ed and Joyce (who have been with us from the beginning) retired, and a couple of volunteers had to take time away due to serious illness.

 

Phew. Venting didn’t make any of that go away and it surely did not make me feel better (and I can almost bet you weren’t smiling and feeling warm fuzzies while reading it). In fact, that completely drained me. I failed to praise God in that complaining and certainly did not focus on the blessings He has blessed me with. With that said, let me do some complaining that will hopefully pull at that tiny nugget of hope, strength, faith, and love you have buried in the depths of your heart…

-A few days ago I hit two cute little deer about 600 feet from my house. Smashed my headlight out and my passenger side door is permanently shut. The deer was even so kind enough to leave some fur on the front of my car leaving my preschool friends asking if my car could fly. How thankful I am to have little four year old friends to put a smile on my face and brighten my day. I am so blessed to be alive! Had another car been coming toward me, I would’ve gotten in a head on collision. Oh God, I thank you for giving me life and for protecting me always.
-A couple days ago I had some heavy problems at work, my car died, and I tore something in my knee leaving me to crawl up and down the stairs on my bottom, and shattered a glass I had been saving all over the kitchen. It’s funny to think back to even a year ago how I would’ve handled these two days of what seemed like torture. Now that my relationship with God is so untouchable and solid, I even found myself giggling at some of these events. I had been praying for patience a couple of days before all of this. We all have the fruits of the Spirit in us, we just need to dust them off and apply them in these situations. God was answering my prayers. He was putting me in situations when my patience was going to be test. All of the things that had gone wrong this day were material things. All things I could replace (yes, even my knee!). Oh God, thank You for reminding me that material things are not of You, but Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control are.
-Yesterday I had a massive migraine which left black, fuzzy dots in my vision, had a horrible case of bus sickness and had to lean my head out the frosty window on the way to Wolverine, and got a flat tire while driving. Yes, migraines are awful, but thank God it isn’t brain cancer. Yes, being nauseous is irritating, but the pain means that I’m alive. I can count four people in my life at this time that are battling cancer. They all have been tackling their disease with such strength, courage, and faith. How dare I complain about a headache that will go away in a few hours! A dear friend took my tire to the shop to get replaced today while I was at work. How blessed I am to have such a wonderful person that would take time out of their day to do that for me. Oh God, thank You for not leaving my friends’ side during their battles. Please continue to hold them tightly in your arms so they may be encouraged by the bravery and strength your Son had while dying on the cross for me.
-Today I got called into work leaving me with 10 minutes to jump out of bed, shower, and be in the classroom. No time for breakfast or to pack a lunch. I also forgot my basketball shoes for practice. Later, I got my car stuck so deeply in snow. With my luck, of course I did not have boots, snow pants, or a hat.  I did, however, have gloves, a winter jacket, and a friend with a generous heart full of love that was willing to help! My mom had a cup of hot chocolate with cool whip waiting for me at home. Speaking of generous hearts, a special friend brought me some yummy snacks to fill my growling tummy. Speaking of yummy things, while at practice, we were all fantasizing about things that sounded tasty… I mentioned “Ahh! Milk and Oreos!” Guess what showed up at my door after practice? That’s right. Milk and Oreos. Oh God, thank You for all of the people in my life… Especially those that spread Your love and make me feel so special, and even those who challenge me, forcing me to dust off those fruits and grow closer to You.
-Over the last few weeks at the Good Samaritan, our freezer shut down, ice was piling up on the roof, the truck had a flat tire, the price of food went up, Ed and Joyce (who have been with us from the beginning) retired, and a couple of volunteers had to take time away due to serious illness. We were able to save much of the food in the freezer and had a volunteer spend hours that evening on his hands and knees cleaning it without anyone knowing. We are so blessed to have healthy, strong volunteers that are willing and able to climb up on a ladder to scrape off the ice on our roof to keep all of our shoppers and neighbors safe. An anonymous, generous community member donated every cent for our truck tire to be fixed. The continuous donations from folks like you allowed us to still purchase food for hungry bellies, and conveniently, we started receiving more food from Food Rescue (also donated!).We are sad to say goodbye to Ed and Joyce, but what a blessing to have had their service for the last 14 years!  Oh God, thank you for the growing number of volunteers (90 plus!) that we have at the Good Samaritan. Bringing them to us is allowing the Good Samaritan to be all You want it to be. Thank YOU!

 

Sometimes our blessings are disguised by trials. Don’t miss a friendly smile because you’re crabby. Don’t miss the warmth of a hug because your heart has turned cold. Don’t miss out on God’s beauty because you’re rushing through life. Don’t give up on God because He’ll never give up on you.

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I am strong.

I am strong.

I am strong.

Ask and You Shall Receive

Standard

Life is tough.

Heartache and pain are two common monsters that are all too familiar. What monsters are chomping away at your insides?

Loneliness and abandonment?

Addiction?

Medical issues?

Financial problems?

 

We all have some type of struggle(s) that the devil enjoys dangling over our heads.

Do you listen to the evil condescending whispers and turn your back on God?

Satan is your enemy.

He is deceiving.

He is demolisher.

He is a manipulator.

He places us in tempting situations in hopes to destroy our faith.

He will not stand next to you when you give in to his evil tactics, rather, point his finger and accuse you.

His wicked laugh will reverberate on the dark walls of your insides and echo throughout your soul.

By blaming and rejecting God, you are giving satan the satisfaction and control over your life.

Satan will use your tears as fuel and will continue to pull you under water until you are nearly drowning, gasping for air.

Your lifeguard is always near.

God is waiting for you to reach out and ask for help.

He is patiently waiting to be invited into your heart. Into your life.

He wants you to love Him, and He wants you to let Him love you.

He has never left your side, nor has He done any evil to you.

He did not abandon you (even when you rejected Him).

He did not give you the addiction.

He did not put the cancer in your body.

He did not empty your bank account.

He did, however, promise to never leave or forsake you (Deuteronomy31:6) and will be with you wherever you go (Joshua1:9).

He has promised you victory over death (1Cor15:57).

He has promised that all good things will work for good for those who love Him and serve Him faithfully (Romans8:28).

 

 

How clean is the house inside of you in which you have prepared Jesus to live? Black with thick smoke, full of deceit and deadly fumes?

It is time to turn your back on the evil one and transform your heart to a warm and inviting place for Christ. Plug your ears and heart to satan’s empty promises and take the hand of the One who has loved you unconditionally all along.

 

 

“No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” — 1Cor13

Raw.

Standard

 

This brick sitting on my chest is making it hard to breathe.

Evil voices keep creeping in my head and stay a while,

Reminding me of my loneliness…

My weaknesses.

My failures.

He reminds me of my dark past and my even darker future.

His wicked laugh echoes throughout the hollow depths of my soul

Leaving me hopeless.

Fearful.

Abandoned.

After allowing him to plant seeds of doubt in my heart, I muster up the strength and courage to fight.

The words blurt unexpectedly from my mouth,

“SATAN I rebuke you in the name of Jesus Christ!”

Instant calming.

Peacefulness.

Serenity.

Serenity.

Serenity.

 

 

 

 

Dig deep and find that inner warrior. Put your foot down and reject satan and all of his empty promises. Do not allow him one more minute of your precious time, thoughts, or energy. I wasn’t strong enough to push the brick off my chest, but our Savior is… and He is always a call away

Today is a new beginning. Start fresh. Start positive.

Standard

 

Image

            A couple weeks ago my faith was shaken. My heart weighed heavy from feeling betrayed and rejected by a friend, the fear of the unknown future crept in minute by minute, and my little bundles of joy were some 500 miles away, leaving me empty. I felt stuck. I found myself scraping the bottom of my hollow heart in search for happiness. Any happiness. As soon as my head hit the pillow I reflected on all of the negative parts of my day. Once my eyes opened and the sun shone on my face symbolizing a new start, I threw the blankets over my head and grumbled. My troubles and heartaches followed me like a dark shadow from the previous day, the previous week, the previous month. I slumped around each day while completing only the necessary tasks (and not an inch more) before ending my day in the same vicious cycle.

            During one of my darkest moments I ran across a quote that pulled me back into the person I believe God had envisioned me to be. “When you live in the past with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard because I am not there. My name is not I WAS. When you live in the future with its problems and fears, it is hard. I am not there. My name is not I WILL BE. When you live in the present, I am here. My name is I AM.” In this moment I decided to not let another minute of my life pass while complaining about how people had wronged me, whining about not having answers and a clear picture of my future, or moping and moaning because my nieces and nephews all live a couple states away. From then on I would refresh, restore, and renew my (what felt like) blackened heart and soul by listening and believing in God’s Word and endless promises. I will take the wrongs and pain people inflict on me and turn them into lessons that will get me further in life and more importantly in my faith. I will count my blessings that God has given me hope of a bright future and wait patiently for His plan to unfold in His time. I will love and cherish the fact that I have little people that love me unconditionally and let me love them just the same. After realizing that I could turn all of my sorrows and distress into blessings and lessons my life completely turned around. Finally, when the sun rose and shined the promises of a new day on my face, I thanked God and set out to spread His love and grace.

            Many of our neighbors at the Good Samaritan are feeling great sorrow and distress in their personal lives. They face the loss of a family member, addiction, financial instability, homelessness, empty stomachs, etc. No matter the troubles you are facing in your life, God is eagerly waiting to help. From this day forward, choose to push the evil one out of your life by flipping your sadness and struggles into hope, faith, and love.