Sunday, November 28, 2010

4 Types...

I definitely can tell I am working full time again. Everything else falls by the wayside. Bummer for my social life, bonus for the checkbook. It is so funny how every time I PLAN to go on call, another opportunity presents itself and I get sucked back in. I haven't decided if that is a God thing or me being an idiot. But for now, I am thanking God for the blessing of work and ministry through it, and asking Him for help with the "B" word. BALANCE.

As I haven't read any wonderful books of late and don't feel overly inspired or witty now, I asked God what I might share that would bring encouragement to your heart. He reminded me of a sermon I heard awhile back that one of our interns presented. It was fantastic and something I go back to often. It's based on Mark 4:1-20 and describes the 4 Types of Hearts. Huh? Yep. There are 4 types of hearts out there, and we aren't talking human, bovine, aquatic or otherwise. These are definitions of the "condition" of our spiritual hearts. Read through the passage with me, and then see what you think below.

Tyler, our intern, said it so much better than I can- but I will give it to you in a nut shell and pray that you will honestly evaluate where YOUR heart is right now, and ask if that is where you WANT it to be. Sometimes a painful exercise, but always a beneficial one. If you don't know what you are aiming for, you will miss it every time right?
Heart #1 : Hard Heart. This is the person who has a blatant disregard for God. This can be an open rejection for God or a passive one. The open ones I love, because at least we both know where the other stands. But the passive ones are tough. The idea is that they are "all in" when the music is good, friends are to be had, and the message is fun and inspiring. But because this person never actually pursues their own RELATIONSHIP with God, they never really get it. So sad. Their very LACK of conviction is their undoing. (Read verses 4:15)

Heart #2 : Shallow Heart. This one is soft and willing, but because they didn't dig deep- they don't build good roots. So when the "stink" hits the fan- they wither up and die. :( I think this one is the hardest to see. Because they are the ones we love so much, but can't understand why they won't read their Bibles, talk to God, find fellow believers to walk alongside- you know, the good stuff. They are the ones that when they go- you miss so much but knew it was coming. (Read verses 4:16-17)

Heart # 3 : Busy Heart. Yeah, now it gets really uncomfortable! This is the one who lets their love for God be suffocated by the "tyranny of the urgent". The important things aren't always the urgent things, you know? In the passage, these are the hearts that get so caught up going in different directions, their root system suffers too and they can never get the nutrients to truly be HEALTHY. (Read verses 4:18-19)
Heart # 4 : Open Heart. Ahhh...this is where we all wish we could be, or stay. This heart is "not too hard, not too shallow, and not to busy...It's soft and deep and AVAILABLE." Don't I wish I could say I hang out here all the time? But if I am honest- I know I tend towards the Busy Heart more than anything. Help me, Lord to be open to you. Change my heart.

Tyler didn't leave us on a depressed note though, so I won't do that to you either! He pointed us to a verse that brings that old Sunday School song to some of our minds, or just the simple comfort that you aren't alone in this.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22a That's what a person with an Open Heart looks like!
God wants to bless you with a new heart- one that is "all in" for him. How awesome, yes? And if I look at that list with my busy heart- trying to get all that "fruit" with my own strength, I suck at life. But when I look at it clearly, knowing that God will do the work, if I just soften to Him in obedience and make myself available to Him in my commitments- Woohoo! That's when we can rock this world with the love, joy, peace, patience, blah blah blah that can not be ignored!

I hope you realize today how much God wants to work FOR you, friend. He adores you. Open your heart to Him, and get to know Jesus better. There is nothing like it.
(The photos of my goombas were simply for your entertainment. All my flowers are dead, the yard is a mess from the freeze- but the most beautiful things to me are these sweet faces. God, give them all a heart after You!)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"The Rich Family in Church."

Read a story today that was so what I needed to remember. I feel like a pretty thankful person- I have a great life, with a great family and more than enough in just about every way. But at church we sang a song that made me blubber like a baby- simply because it reminded me how "unthankful" I really am. And I never want to feel that way again. Then God showed me this blog post that brought this concept home again- and all I can say is "For all you've given to me,
For all the blessings that I cannot see...Thank you lord!" It's long, but sooo worth it!

"I’ll never forget Easter 1946. I was 14, my little sister Ocy was 12, and my older sister Darlene 16. We lived at home with our mother, and the four of us knew what it was to do without many things. My dad had died five years before, leaving Mom with seven school kids to raise and no money.

By 1946 my older sisters were married and my brothers had left home. A month before Easter the pastor of our church announced that a special Easter offering would be taken to help a poor family. He asked everyone to save and give sacrificially.

When we got home, we talked about what we could do. We decided to buy 50 pounds of potatoes and live on them for a month. This would allow us to save $20 of our grocery money for the offering. When we thought that if we kept our electric lights turned out as much as possible and didn’t listen to the radio, we’d save money on that month’s electric bill. Darlene got as many house and yard cleaning jobs as possible, and both of us babysat for everyone we could. For 15 cents we could buy enough cotton loops to make three pot holders to sell for $1. We made $20 on pot holders. That month was one of the best of our lives.

Every day we counted the money to see how much we had saved. At night we’d sit in the dark and talk about how the poor family was going to enjoy having the money the church would give them. We had about 80 people in church, so figured that whatever amount of money we had to give, the offering would surely be 20 times that much. After all, every Sunday the pastor had reminded everyone to save for the sacrificial offering.

The day before Easter, Ocy and I walked to the grocery store and got the manager to give us three crisp $20 bills and one $10 bill for all our change. We ran all the way home to show Mom and Darlene. We had never had so much money before.

That night we were so excited we could hardly sleep. We didn’t care that we wouldn’t have new clothes for Easter; we had $70 for the sacrificial offering. We could hardly wait to get to church! On Sunday morning, rain was pouring. We didn’t own an umbrella, and the church was over a mile from our home, but it didn’t seem to matter how wet we got. Darlene had cardboard in her shoes to fill the holes. The cardboard came apart, and her feet got wet.

But we sat in church proudly. I heard some teenagers talking about the Smith girls having on their old dresses. I looked at them in their new clothes, and I felt rich. When the sacrificial offering was taken, we were sitting on the second row from the front. Mom put in the $10 bill, and each of us kids put in a $20.

As we walked home after church, we sang all the way. At lunch Mom had a surprise for us. She had bought a dozen eggs, and we had boiled Easter eggs with our fried potatoes! Late that afternoon the minister drove up in his car. Mom went to the door, talked with him for a moment, and then came back with an envelope in her hand. We asked what it was, but she didn’t say a word. She opened the envelope and out fell a bunch of money. There were three crisp $20 bills, one $10 and seventeen $1 bills.

Mom put the money back in the envelope. We didn’t talk, just sat and stared at the floor. We had gone from feeling like millionaires to feeling like poor white trash. We kids had such a happy life that we felt sorry for anyone who didn’t have our Mom and Dad for parents and a house full of brothers and sisters and other kids visiting constantly. We thought it was fun to share silverware and see whether we got the spoon or the fork that night. We had two knifes that we passed around to whoever needed them. I knew we didn’t have a lot of things that other people had, but I’d never thought we were poor.

That Easter day I found out we were. The minister had brought us the money for the poor family, so we must be poor. I didn’t like being poor. I looked at my dress and worn-out shoes and felt so ashamed–I didn’t even want to go back to church. Everyone there probably already knew we were poor!

I thought about school. I was in the ninth grade and at the top of my class of over 100 students. I wondered if the kids at school knew that we were poor. I decided that I could quit school since I had finished the eighth grade. That was all the law required at that time. We sat in silence for a long time. Then it got dark, and we went to bed. All that week, we girls went to school and came home, and no one talked much. Finally on Saturday, Mom asked us what we wanted to do with the money. What did poor people do with money? We didn’t know. We’d never known we were poor. We didn’t want to go to church on Sunday, but Mom said we had to. Although it was a sunny day, we didn’t talk on the way. Mom started to sing, but no one joined in and she only sang one verse. At church we had a missionary speaker. He talked about how churches in Africa made buildings out of sun dried bricks, but they needed money to buy roofs. He said $100 would put a roof on a church. The minister said, “Can’t we all sacrifice to help these poor people?” We looked at each other and smiled for the first time in a week.

Mom reached into her purse and pulled out the envelope. She passed it to Darlene. Darlene gave it to me, and I handed it to Ocy. Ocy put it in the offering. When the offering was counted, the minister announced that it was a little over $100. The missionary was excited. He hadn’t expected such a large offering from our small church. He said, “You must have some rich people in this church.” Suddenly it struck us! We had given $87 of that “little over $100.”

We were the rich family in the church! Hadn’t the missionary said so? From that day on I’ve never been poor again. I’ve always remembered how rich I am because I have Jesus!"

If you want to know a little more about Eddie Ogan, the author of this story- check here:

God bless you, friends. And may you use that blessing to bless the socks right off the people around you!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

To raise a man...

Whirlwind days, but so good to be in the fall season. Especially good when the temperature stays around 70 while the leaves turn to gold! Love it! Oh, how I wish the heat could stay and the seasons move forward, but alas- I know this will pass and I will dig out the scarves, sweaters and parka jackets sooner than later. But that also will bring Christmas and snow and days of doing nothing but sitting with a book by the fire. Not a bad deal!

I had a moment this week where all was right with the world, and it was wonderful. Busy, busy after work and school, sent my boy off to his friends and got my things to head to the barn. As I drove to pick up Jazz- who do I pass but my boy again, riding his bike down the road, head phones on, blue hoodie flapping with the wind in his hair. Of course it put a smile on my face, but as I passed him and waved out the window, my side mirror showed me a glimpse of why we mamas do what we do. I saw in the mirror the face of my boy, but finally saw that he isn't a boy anymore. My man child is growing up, half way to 16 and full of his own ideas and opinions, goals and passions. And that is a good thing. In that mirror I saw him lift up a hand to wave, and a pure, joyful smile on his face. That smile put the anxieties in my heart at ease, my faith in God strengthen and my hope for the future generations secure. That smile reminded me that God is God alone, and no matter my fears or concerns for what might, should or will happen- it is going to turn out just right, according to His great design. I will keep pushing, keep praying, keep loving and keep BELIEVING God will hold these dear ones close to Him. And I trust that the prayers I give my Father will not go unanswered, or unheard. Oh, what a wonderful moment of peace in the midst of a really tough week.
Thank you, Papa, for always being faithful to me when I am not. Thank you for moments that take our breath away at the thought of Your greatness. My peanut brain can not understand how you maintain the Universe while at the same moment bless this silly mama's heart when you know she needs it most. You, oh Lord, are a great God.
“Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you." Jeremiah 32:17
(Getting pictures of this guy lately has been tough, but I will persist! :)