Category Archives: Life

Whatever’s left after I give to God and my family.

So Close, So Far

I28Haiti-articleLarge go onto my computer in the morning to check Facebook.  Another typical day.  I have a couple of messages from friends, both asking me how I am doing.  I respond to the first one, giving the details of my busy schedule, the chores like grocery shopping and preparing for the holidays and I complain a bit about how much clutter I have in my home.  The other one asks and I reply, “We are well.”  Because we are.  You see my first friend who asked lives a few miles away in a home similar to mine with a family similar to mine.  The second friend lives 1577 miles away in Haiti, the poorest country in the northern hemisphere. It is difficult to admit to my Haitian friend that the things that make me busy, also make me blessed.

Only 706 miles from Miami, FL is a country where 50% of the population is undernourished. 2,500,000 people live in extreme poverty and they are currently going through dangerous civil unrest.  It hasn’t been safe for the children who are blessed to afford school to even attend and the schools have not even begun for the 2019/2020 school year yet.  How can this be?  How can a country be so close and yet so far away?

I’ve had the privilege of going to Haiti and meeting some wonderful, hard-working people who want to improve their situation but are fighting an uphill battle. They face uncertain conditions because they were born in an unstable country. They are raising families in a country where 2 out of 3 people live on less than $2 a day. I am blessed to be raising a family in a country where most people I know spend more than $2 a day on junk food we don’t even need.

I share this with you to let you know that I want to help my neighbors.  I want to help the Haitian people. Last year I was able to go and help them physically.  At this point, it wouldn’t be safe for me to travel there to help, so I hope to raise funds to send in place of me.  I hope you will join me in this effort. If you ever want to take the money you spend on junk food and put it to good use instead, feel free to give it to Hearts 4 Haiti and we will see that it helps someone in Haiti who needs it.

So how are you doing today? I hope you can answer “well.”

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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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Filed under Devotionals, family, Inspirational, Life, Scriptures

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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Decluttering

IMG_0170In the last few years, I have been taking a slow and steady approach to ridding my home of excess.  Remember, I said SLOW but I also said steady.  It has been on my mind and quite honestly, I have made some progress, but there is a lot more that needs to be done.  I have enrolled in an online course to try to implement some of the things I know about simplifying and decluttering my home.  It’s early in the course, but one exercise that was recommended was to walk through your home and look at each room, see what it is you like about the room and also note was is excess that you don’t even enjoy. THEN, (this is the hard part) get a garbage bag and within an hour, walk through your home and fill the garbage bag with things you don’t want. My level of anxiety was going up just as I read the instructions.  I know things are lurking in my home that I don’t need or want, but I also don’t want to get rid of them.  Why is that?

Fortunately, the article I was reading suggested that you might find garbage and outdated magazines and clothes that don’t fit.  OK, I can do that…but can I? A few weeks ago, I was cleaning out a portion of my basement and came across lids for large storage containers.  18 to be exact.  18 storage container lids with no containers! Apparently, I didn’t want to throw out the lid because I was sure that I would find the container, but either the container got lost or broken and it’s lid remained.  They are gone now, but I’m sad to say that some of those lids date back a couple of decades! In the spring, I cleared out over 30 wine glasses from my cupboard.  That’s a lot of wine glasses for a Red Solo cup kind of girl! Just for fun as I rid myself of some of these items, I will count them. It may entertain me, but at this point, it also may sadden me. I have SO much.  I have been so blessed and there are so many that don’t have anything. I want to be ever mindful of the less fortunate.  As I go through my house, I hope I find things that I can give away so that others can find a use for and I look forward to getting rid of the tote lids and other useless things! Care to venture a guess on how many unmatched socks I might find?

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Fall Foliage Prediction

It’s currently mid-October and I am looking out my window at some beautiful fall leaves. The colors are vibrant, the sun is shining and Autumn appears to be gorgeous. This fact is barely worth mentioning, except that I didn’t expect it. Every year I look forward to fall and October is one of my favorite months, but this year, I had a different attitude at the beginning of the month. You see, I was discussing the fall leaves with someone and they said that this year the leaves probably wouldn’t change colors and that as far as they could tell, this year it was going to be “Brown and Down.” WHAT?! Brown and Down? Who wants that? I want the reds, the yellows, the oranges! I don’t want the leaves to become brown and down!

But, when they made that statement, it was pretty much true. In our area, we had the Cicadas which caused many of our trees to lose big clumps of leaves. (Those dead leaves have been plaguing our lawns for a while.) And I must admit that I did see some leaves turning brown and falling, but this week we got a surprise. The warmer September temperatures made the leaves change colors later and it appears that in our area, we aren’t even at peak yet. This fall, I get to enjoy the changing leaves as I always have.

The noteworthy part of this story is that one person’s new clever phrase “Brown and Down” almost stole my joy. My mood instantly switched from looking forward expectantly towards the colors of autumn to dreading the leaves turning brown. Someone dashed my hope. With three words!

It makes me wonder how many times I dash someone’s hope with only a few words. Phrases like “I doubt it, probably not, and It’s always something” could impact someone more than I intend to. Someone could be looking forward to planning an event and they could ask me if I think others would be interested. I may answer, “I doubt it.” Do you think that is a big boost to their morale? What about, “Think this sunshine will last until the weekend?” “Probably not.” Yuck! Who wants to be that person? Not me. However, I find that I sometimes I am that person and sometimes even worse.

Just like weathermen that get the forecast wrong, Fall Foliage Predictions are just that….predictions. No one knows when or how vibrantly the leaves will change colors, but saying something negative doesn’t lift anyone’s spirits. I read a quote that says, “If you can’t be positive at least be quiet.” Scripture says, “There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.” So, to the people who were believing in the Brown and Down Fall, I will say nothing. I will go outside and stand quietly on this gorgeous day and watch the beautiful leaves fall.

Also, to these people, I really didn’t take much offense…I just needed something to write about. I found the new phrase rather clever and I wanted to share it, but I’m glad you were wrong!

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

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Too Much Stuff

IMG_1366I just came upstairs from organizing and going through bins and tubs in my basement.  Boxes and boxes of Fall decorations, Framed photos from years gone by, mementos and keepsakes that come with five kids.  Too Much Stuff.

I brought some Fall decorations up, but it’s too early to get out the Turkeys so that bin will go back downstairs to wait a few weeks.  I worked and worked all day and finally, I sat down to eat a snack and check Facebook.  I received a message from my friend Vilbon. Vilbon is a struggling dentist in Haiti.  He’s a dentist and yet very few people have funds to pay for dental care, so Vilbon is poor.

His innocent question came up on the screen.  “Hi! How are you?” I reply “Good, You?” “With God good.” I thought I might enjoy having a conversation with him while I rest a bit, but then I realized that I don’t have much to say.  I dread that he might ask, “What are you doing?”  Would I have to admit that I spent my entire day organizing unimportant things?  That I have so much stuff that I have a pile in my garage that needs to go to Goodwill and another pile of stuff that needs to go to the garbage? Can my conversation include stories like I share with my other friends? Stories about needing to throw out the unused lettuce, struggles with my kids not having enough drawer space for all of their clothes or the fact that I had to drive the truck because I didn’t want to have to stop to put gas in the car? I don’t think so. I can’t let someone in extreme poverty know how much surplus I have!

Vilbon knows I’m blessed.  Just as Vilbon knows you are too if you live in the United States.  All of us have too much stuff! Our blessings often become our burdens. Since visiting Haiti, I have been trying to be more mindful of what I have, what I buy and what I donate. I am a work in progress. I will probably always have more than I want to tell Vilbon about, but I hope that simply by knowing him, my perspective will change and I will be able to give what I have to someone else who doesn’t have as much.

Vilbon still messages me. The notification comes up on the computer and It is an opportunity for me to check myself.  What is it at that moment that I have that I am probably taking for granted? What is the condition in my home at the moment vs. the condition in his environment? I hope that the change of perspective creates in me a more grateful heart!

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17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.   James 1:17

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It’s my Anniversary…and yours too!

IMG_1444Last week my husband and I had an empty nest for about 36 hours.  Our daughter was going to a football game and then spending the night at a friend’s.  We decided to make the most of our time and plan a near-to-home getaway.  So, after she got on the school bus, we loaded our bikes, visited our parents and headed out for a beautiful autumn day.  We found a trail and admired the falling leaves and the creek and scenery along our 10-mile bike trip.  We then went to our river house and relaxed (I relaxed by reading, he relaxed by mowing the grass…but he says that’s how he relaxes!)  We decided to dress up and go out to dinner at a new restaurant.  I donned my black dress and we headed out.  We made a quick stop at the Widnoon Ice Cream stand to catch our last bit of ice cream before it closed for the season and then we went to the restaurant and had a lovely meal and some really fun conversation.  It was a really nice date.

The thing about the entire date though was that when we called for the reservations, the host at The Meredith Inn asked if we were celebrating anything special.  I thought about that a lot during the evening.  Were we?  Anything special?  This was definitely a date that felt like it should’ve been an anniversary.  (We’ve celebrated anniversaries before with very little fanfare.)  So, what were we celebrating?  Since it felt like an anniversary, I decided to call it that and in fact, it was my anniversary.  Since I journal daily, I can tell you exactly what it was the anniversary of!

In 2018, I was spending time with friends in Florida….so it was the anniversary of a wonderful trip. I could’ve also been celebrating the 9th anniversary of a day when I pitched a fit and I was in a bad mood (yep, I wrote that down too.)  Other years I attended college visitation with a child, hosted Godly Girls, watched George fix plumbing, listened to political banter (and prayed about it.) This date was the 2nd anniversary of a lunch date with a friend, the 8th anniversary of receiving the call giving us an adoption date and the 7th anniversary of the new porch at the Petroleum Valley Youth Center. So, I wonder, if we had responded to the host that yes, we were celebrating something special, would she have agreed?

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 
–Psalm 118:24
The fact that this actual day didn’t have any special meaning to us, did not mean that we shouldn’t have been celebrating something special.  Each day is a gift and we need to take some time to recognize it.  We should celebrate each day like it is something special…because it is.  Thank you host, for reminding me!

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