Category Archives: family

Secretly Do Good Deeds

IMG_1557I recently hosted a used book sale to raise funds for Haiti.  Though I don’t have any young children in my home and I have retired from selling children’s books, I still am always drawn to the picture books.  I love the illustrations and the often rhyming text.  This book sale was no different.  I found myself picking up the hardback, colorful books and enjoying the simple stories.

Secretly Do Good Deeds by Melody Carlson was such a fun book with a great message. Someone did a good deed for this little protagonist without getting caught and it prompted her into doing good deeds in private for others.  The author’s story idea isn’t original, it comes straight from Matthew 6:1-4 in the Bible.

 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  –Mat 6:1-4 NIV

The author ends her story with “And now I will share my fun secret with you. It’s something Lord Jesus said that we should do. “Do your good deeds when no one can see, And God will reward you eternally.”  That ends the story, that ends the book, but I hope it doesn’t end the message.  Since reading that book, I’ve been thinking about how I could do good deeds in secret and I must admit, I’ve come up short.  (So if you’ve recently been the recipient of someone doing something nice for you in secret, it wasn’t me!) This week, however, I may try even harder and I challenge you to do the same!  Let’s see if we can make someone’s day a little brighter and honor God and His word at the same time.

Shhhhh!  Don’t tell anyone!

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The World Is Not a Stage

“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.

2-4 “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—play actors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. –Matthew 6:1-4 MSG

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The Eye Sees What the Heart Loves

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My daughter visited NYC last week and I sent her a text with the old slogan “I ‘heart’ NY” which made using a heart symbol in place of the word ‘love’ popular since 1977.  Yes, over 40 years ago! I texted her “I heart NY” but since she was flying to Denver, I reminded her that I also “heart” Denver.  And in reality, I “heart” many places.

I “heart” Haiti and am actively involved with an organization that supports Haiti called Hearts 4 Haiti. We are in the process of planning a mission trip in March which will send 11 people to Mombin Crochu, Haiti to deliver medical supplies and assist in the completion of a medical clinic in this remote village.  I have traveled there myself and now the people, the community and the mission are very dear to me. Recent unrest in Haiti has made us proceed with caution as we make travel plans. The US state department has had a Level 3 – Travel Advisory in effect since June advising people to “reconsider travel.”  So we have taken careful consideration and speaking with trusted advisors in Haiti, we think the situation has calmed enough to allow us to send a team.  As I searched the internet for reports of safety issues and the current unrest in Haiti, I came across the following which has reaffirmed our decision and our mission.

What’s it like in Haiti now? Is it safe to come back? These are questions a lot of people are asking. The answer is hard to give without knowing who is asking.

Warren Wiersbe once said: “The eyes see what the heart loves.”

What’s inside the person looking will have a huge effect on what they see around them.

What did you see the last time you were in Haiti? Did you see poverty and misery? You’ll probably see that again. Did you see hope and ingenuity? You’ll probably see that again.

What did you not see the last time you were in Haiti? Did you not notice the malnourished kid with the rust-colored hair? You’ll probably not notice him this time either. Did you not notice the political tension brewing beneath the surface? You’ll probably not notice it this time either – unless it erupts again while you’re here.

Many people have been helped in various small ways by those who saw the needs around them which others didn’t notice. But far greater change has come from those who dared to look ahead and see a future no one around them could see.

What do you see when you look at Haiti?

Very wise words and I believe that they could apply to more than just Haiti.  Anytime we travel we are exposed to new and different sights.  Many times that is exactly why we travel.  So, I believe the same sentiments as above could be true of anywhere.   New York City? Denver? Did I see the homeless population? Did I see garbage? Did I see traffic and hear honking horns? Did I see violence? I may have, but I also saw kindness, mountains, flowers in parks, talented street musicians. I’ve seen all that it affirms the fact that actually, I “heart” NY, Denver, Haiti, and many other places. Warren Wiersbe was a pastor, author, and Bible teacher and his complete quote states: “The eyes see what the heart loves. If the heart loves God and is single in this devotion, then the eyes will see God whether others see Him or not.”

Scripture says in Psalm 27:13-14

13 I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

Let’s see the goodness of the Lord in whatever land we are in.  Let your heart direct your eyes!

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I’m a Senior!

IMG_1278Remember in high school when being a Senior was considered the best thing possible? You just couldn’t wait to be a senior….all the power, all the freedom, all the glory.  Well, here I am.  I am a Senior.  Now, I’m not a Senior Citizen. Medicare says a Senior Citizen is 65 years old and Social Security says 62 though they claim retirement age is 67.  My husband and I will never forget that on our honeymoon in England there were different entrance prices at an event: Adult, Child, and OAP.  What’s an OAP?  An old aged pensioner. 🙂 I’m not sure if they have gotten more politically correct in Great Britain, but around here people my age are called Seniors.  Last week, we went to Shot In The Dark mini-golfing.  I walked up to the cashier and said, “4 Adults” and my sister in law piped in, “4 Seniors.  We are all Seniors.”  I didn’t even notice that Senior was 55 at putt-putt golf.  I guess the glory in being this kind of a senior is that we saved $8 on the round of golf!

I am a Senior and though I often find it hard to recognize the benefits, I do see some.  I really do feel a bit wiser than someone in their 30’s.  I really don’t have the same level of stress as young parents.  I don’t even have the same level of responsibilities.  At this point, I only have one child to look out for.  I can’t even believe that at one point, I was responsible for 5 lives at the same time!  Whew! So, there is some freedom in being a Senior.

My husband and I were watching a movie the other evening and it had a room full of Seniors in it and they were complaining that there was a situation that they could do nothing about.  Finally, one of the men said, “We have over 500 years of life experience sitting here, we should be able to figure something out.”  So, my husband and I chuckle now and say, “We have over 100 years of life experience, we should be able to figure this out.”  It is true, we do have life experience and we should be putting it to good use.

I’ve heard people say things like, “I paid my dues,” and “been there, done that” about things as they age and I want my fellow Seniors to be careful about these words and these attitudes.  I am as guilty as the next guy in some respects, especially in my service to the church. I am so over Vacation Bible School.  I remember years of cutting construction paper and doing hand motions to songs.  It used to be a 2-week event and it was held for 3 hours every morning.  You only had to utter, “It’s VBS week” and people knew not to expect you to be able to do anything else.  I have “been there, done that” and quite honestly, I don’t want to do it again, but I think as a Senior, I can do something different.

This year I retired as Christmas Pageant Director.  I’ve held this position for a while with incredible support staff.  I sincerely enjoy the kids and I honestly think I will miss my role next year.  And, just as I announced my “retirement” from that position, I recognized that I can’t just quit, I have to find something to continue to serve.  I think that is what we all need to do.  As we age, and as our responsibilities change, we need to let go of some things to allow others that opportunity, but we also need to pick up something different that suits our new season of life.  So, if you aren’t interested in teaching a Sunday School class of 8 kids, maybe you could just take a moment to recognize 1 kid each Sunday and make them feel special.  If you don’t want to lead a Bible Study weekly, maybe you could invite someone over for a cup of tea and some godly discussion.  If you aren’t physically able to shovel the walks like you used to, maybe you could make some calls to help find someone who could.  There are positions and needs for all skill levels and abilities in the church, you just need to prayerfully find the one that suits you best.

I think there is power and freedom in being a Senior…I’m not so sure about the glory part, but I must admit that I had fun playing glow in the dark mini golf for $2 less than the lady behind me…even though I complained that I couldn’t see very well in the dark!

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They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, –Psalm 92:14

Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?

— Job 12:12

Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. — Deut 34:7

 

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Create in Me

IMG_1150“Help me to choose to forgive many people. Oh Lord, I have such a mean spirit in me. Create in me a pure heart.”  Wait.  Where did that come from?  I was journaling my grumbles, complaints, and grievances about others and then all of a sudden that scripture popped into my head. Wow. I didn’t even know that scripture was in my head, but since it popped out like that, I thought I better listen to it.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. —Psalm 51:10       

I decided to explore some word definitions and give this scripture some serious meditation and thought.

Create – Bring into existence

Pure- Free of contamination

Renew- Resume after an interruption

Steadfast – Dutifully firm and unwavering

Pretty easy to understand. It’s only 8:05 a.m. and my attitude about others makes me certain that the Lord needs to create in me a pure heart because it doesn’t currently exist. However, the renew part makes me feel that my pure heart has only been interrupted so I can get it back!  God will do the creating of the pure heart, but I think that I need to do my part to keep my heart free of contamination.

This morning I recognize that some of the events of the last couple of days have contaminated my heart.  Hanging out with grumpy people, watching trash on the TV, allowing bantering political analysts to be the background noise of my day are just a few of the things that may contribute to the pollution in my mind and heart.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. –Psalm 51:10-12

I’m going to take my willing spirit and look beyond the rain that is falling outside today.  I’m going to seek out godly people to converse with and I’m going to turn on some praise music.  God can create in me a new heart and I will do my part to keep it that way.

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The Season of “Aha!”

IMG_1095I had a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year and now …Aha! I am in a new season.  Actually, I truly am in a new season.  The Season of Epiphany.  Growing up in the church, I was aware of the Christian seasons and the altar cloth and flower colors changing, but I never really studied the seasons or knew much about them.  I still don’t, but I intend to learn more in that area in 2020, but this year, I have decided to acknowledge the true Christian seasons in a new way.

First off, Christmas.  In a culture of one and done, it seems that Christmas is all build-up and little follow-through.  We celebrate Advent for four weeks and anticipate Christmas and then many times when it arrives we are too tired to give the holiday more than one day of celebration when in the Christian calendar, Christmas lasts 12 days.  Aha!  The familiar Christmas song of the 12 days of Christmas! There really are 12 days of Christmas and Christmas Day is Day #1.  So, on New Year’s Eve we should be celebrating Swans-a Swimming and on New Year’s Day maids-a-milking and finally, today we should be listening to Drummers drumming.  (Maybe I should let the organist know so our hymns can reflect that today?)

This year, I have been mindful of the twelve days and I firmly decided to enjoy each of the 12 days of Christmas. Of course, I didn’t host a dinner or a party each day, but I did enjoy the sweets this year instead of dumping the crumbs on the 26th. I’ve continued to ask family members to play board games or do an activity with me and I’ve continued to say “Merry Christmas” to friends. (Isn’t it something how the Christmas music on the radio disappears immediately after the 25th…talk about sudden withdrawal!)

But today is it.  The 12th day of Christmas.  Christmas is over and the season of Epiphany begins. Aha! I’m saying the season because Epiphany lasts until February 23rd this year! (Annually it ends the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday.) We all know how we traditionally celebrate Christmas, but what does one do for Epiphany? Well, in the past, I’ve done nothing, but this year I have hopes of taking the symbolic light we received with candles on Christmas Eve and taking it forward. In the hopes of keeping the spirit of Christmas alive a bit longer, I am embracing the season of Epiphany. Epiphany recognizes how a star led the Magi, the Kings, the Wise Men (I always got confused as a kid with all these different names) to the baby Jesus and for us, I believe it is to prompt us to lead others to Jesus as well.  That light we received on Christmas Eve, the gift of Jesus we received on Christmas morning is still here and we are to light the way to Him for others.

Others who have recognized this season have many ways of celebrating, but for me, I’m going to end my Christmas Season and head into Epiphany by allowing my light and some lights in my home to remain on for a while (not sure I can hang on until Ash Wednesday but we will see.)  I’m going to keep some twinkle lights on my mantle, battery-operated candles in my windows and I’m going to light candles more often. I’m going to do this intentionally to remind me to take the light and go forth as Epiphany intends. Aha! (Did you catch on to my wordplay there? Having an Epiphany about Epiphany?) Aha! Go Forth and shine your light!

let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.  –Matthew 5:16

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Can I Help You?

IMG_0169Jesus said to me “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. — Matthew 11:28

As a church member entered the building with her cane in one hand and her purse in the other, I offered her help.  She handed me her purse, grabbed my elbow and said, “I never refuse help.” It was such a refreshing response. Many times when we offer help, we are met with rejection. “No, I’ve got it.” “No thanks, I’m good.” And, many times we respond that way when we are asked. Now I understand that sometimes when we are holding things just so, handing one item off would upset our balance, but many times we simply could accept the help and don’t.  So why don’t we?

Most of us would ask for help if we were lifting a refrigerator, but we avoid getting help with the smaller things.  The same may hold true when we are talking about our spiritual burdens. If a real crisis hits, we go to God, but these little pesky everyday burdens we choose to handle on our own.  We all know that if you keep adding pebbles to a bucket, the bucket eventually gets too heavy to carry and I believe the same holds true for our pesky burdens. They will keep adding up until they become too heavy to carry and then we will turn them over to the Lord.  We don’t have to do that. We can share our little burdens with God, just as we can accept help with some of the little tasks we face in our lives. Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

So, for your spiritual burdens, give even the little ones to God and for your physical burdens, share them with your friends and family. That way we all get to participate in God’s plan for us.

Thanks, friend, for accepting the offer of my help.  I think it actually helped us both.

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Want to Make a Difference?

IMG_0225While cleaning out my closet this past week, I came across a piece of paper with “If I really wanted to make a difference, I would ________”  written on it. The blank wasn’t filled in, and I have no idea when it was written, but I wonder what I would’ve filled in during that time.  If I had written it when I was a child, it might’ve said, “If I really wanted to make a difference, I would clean my room or study more.”  Maybe when I was mothering younger children, it would’ve read, “If I really wanted to make a difference, I would make my kids turn off the TV and play outside more.” But how should I answer it today?  What should I write in the blank?

If I really wanted to make a difference, I would _______.  Wait.  This time around, I realize I don’t have to include the blank.  It can be a complete sentence and a complete thought. “If I really wanted to make a difference, I would.”  I know how to make a difference and I have opportunities to do it every day.  If I really wanted to make a difference, I would raise funds for Haiti.  If I really wanted to make a difference, I would bake bread for my father in law. If I really wanted to make a difference I would organize a Salvation Army red kettle drive for our community. If I really wanted to make a difference, I would donate clothes to our local clothing drive or food for our local food cupboard.  If I really wanted to make a difference, I would help someone carry their groceries to the car. If I really wanted to make a difference, I would.

The season is upon us when we have the opportunity to make a difference in a variety of ways.  Instead of waiting to fill in the blank and consider what you would do to make a difference, just do it.  If you really wanted to make a difference, you would.  And, if you need any ideas on how just give me a call!

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In all things I have shown you how, working like this, you must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  — Acts 2035

Let every man give according to the purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. — 2 Corinthians 9:7

And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple, truly I tell you, he shall in no way lose his reward.  –Matthew 10:42

Give and it will be given to you: Good measure pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will men give unto you.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured unto you. –Luke 6;38

James 1:22 says ” Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” 

 

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