Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Thief Was a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing... Or Was She?


I posted this story on Facebook this morning and it prompted a very interesting discussion, so I thought I would share it with you as well:

I dreamed last night that I was in a café and a sweet little old lady came up to me to ask for some financial help. I just had a $20 dollar bill and a few singles in my wallet. I figured if she's asking then she needs it more than I do, so gave it all to her. I sat and visited with her for a few minutes as she shared with me her struggles. Then I went to the counter to pay for my coffee, but when I pulled out my wallet again to get my check card, my wallet was empty... everything was gone... driver's license and all. This sweet little old lady had stolen everything out of my wallet. When I questioned her about it, she cried and told me she “had to do it”... She had already passed off the contents of my wallet to someone else who was long gone from the café and already using my charge card on whatever. I spent the rest of the night closing accounts and attempting to put my life back together again. I'm exhausted... but strangely I'm not angry with the sweet little old lady. Thoughts?

A dear friend of mine responded with this scripture reading:

Luke 6:29 29(E) To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30(G) Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.

As I said in the beginning, this was a dream. Had it been real life, I’m certain fear and panic would have consumed my emotions, and I don’t know that I would’ve been so kind. I also can’t help but think that many of us are one paycheck, or one drink, or one gambling debt away from becoming this sweet little old lady. Who knows what drove her to her circumstances, but as Christ would tell us, it’s up to us to help her find her way back on a firm foundation.

So, the next time you see a sweet little old lady in a café, who looks like she’s seen hard times, clutch your wallet… and show a little compassion.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Jesus Listens... Even On Snow Days

I love the snow. I do. Maybe it’s because snow is rarely seen in OKC, or maybe it’s because I see it as one of God’s little miracles that he delights in sharing with us from time to time. Whatever the reason, I love it. I enjoy sitting at the window and watching those huge puffy flakes slowly drop from the sky and gently fall to the ground. And what a sight to behold when everything is covered in a blanket of pure white – like everything has been washed clean… every imperfection covered and no longer visible by the naked eye. Wouldn’t it be nice if the snow could cover up our own imperfections as well?


I was reading my morning devotion – Jesus Calling – and today’s message really spoke to me… “When you feel anxious, know that you are focusing on the visible world and leaving Me out of the picture. The remedy is simple: Fix your eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen.” The author, Sarah Young, was quoting 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Normally, I would jump right to the NIV translation, but today I want to share with you how The Message paraphrases this passage:

“Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace… There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”
- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

And that, my friend, I believe is the reason for the season – to remind us that every day we are showered in God’s loving grace. Just like the pure white blanket of snow, every day begins with new hope and the promise that God is always with us… we are never alone.



Funny how God speaks to us sometimes… today of all days… I have been feeling really alone. Because of the “snowmageddon”, I’ve been cooped up in this ol’ house for three long days. I typically relish a change of pace from my normal routine, but when I’m forced to take a day off (or three) because of high snow drifts and frigid temps, I find myself feeling disconnected from the rest of the world and getting really anxious. Anxious for what? I’m not sure. But for three days, I have wandered through the house looking for something to occupy my time… I’ve checked Facebook and Twitter more times than I would like to admit, skimmed many books, surfed the cable channels, and watched the time tick away at a snail’s pace. Nothing seemed to take that anxious feeling away… until this morning.

I looked out the window this morning, and I was thrilled to see that my newspaper had been delivered (tossed), but it landed near the street... about 100ft from the front door… too far for me to justify getting bundled up and trudging through the 2-3ft snow drifts. And so I took a picture of it. Ha.



And it was at that moment that I spotted my furry little friend scavenging for food. This little squirrel has spent many mornings sitting on the kitchen windowsill, watching intently while I whip up some oatmeal for breakfast. We have never spoken, but I have found great comfort in sharing my morning routine with this little guy, and I think he feels the same.




This morning, that little squirrel seemed very busy searching for food, but every few minutes, he would stop and look up at the window to see if I was there. Now how cool is that? And then it hit me -- Our Father in heaven is the same way – always busy tending to matters far greater than we could ever comprehend, but doing so while never letting us out of his sight. I prayed a small prayer of gratitude... and slowly that lonely, anxious feeling melted away.



Have you ever felt alone or anxious? I'm sure you have; we all have at one time or another. The next time you feel this way, I challenge you to look to the heavens and begin sharing your heart. There’s no great philosophy on the perfect way to speak to God… just start talking, and I assure you… HE WILL LISTEN.

“I am with you and for you. You face nothing alone… nothing!”
– Jesus Calling

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I Have a Dream!

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day.  It’s a day when we honor a man who died before I was even born, but his legacy lives on and his powerful words still ring true today.  Most of us have heard or read his speech – “I Have a Dream”, and in school we studied the history of racism and segregation, but I have to admit, I really never experienced the violence and abuse first hand.

When I was ten years old, my family lived in a suburb south east of Oklahoma City, near a military base.  I never visited the base and really didn’t know much about their way of life, but many of my grade-school friends had parents who were active in the military.  Therefore, our classrooms were very diversified; I had a friend who was born in Hawaii and another who lived most of his life in Germany.  We were a mix of kids from all over the world… from many different cultures and race, but for this one year, we were known as Ms. Halbert’s Fourth-Grade Class. 

One day, I overheard some classroom parents talking about our class.  One mother was saying to another, “Do you realize in this classroom the ‘white kids’ have become the minority?  My husband and I are thinking about pulling our son out of this school district and placing him in a healthier environment.”  I was shocked and confused.  I didn’t understand what she meant by the ‘white kids’.  I have a little Indian in me.  Did I fall in that category?  Was I one of those ‘unhealthy’ kids that she didn’t want her son socializing with anymore?  Of course, after all of these years, I understand what she meant, but to us, we were all one in the same.  We were ALL friends.  We didn’t allow our cultural differences to stand in our way, and we certainly didn’t judge each other by the colors of our skin.  I think the adults could have learned a lot from Ms. Halbert’s class.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.


Today in church, Dr. Gorrell asked the congregation to wear their favorite team colors.  We came in our OU crimson, our OSU orange pride, and some were sporting their blue NBA Thunder jerseys.  We were a motley crew, to say the least.  At the beginning of the service, Dr. Gorrell asked us to look around the room and witness the diversity of our congregation.  He then went on to explain, outside of the walls of the church, we all come from many different cultures… we even cheer for different teams… but we are all united as one when we come together on Sunday to worship our savior Jesus Christ.  And so, today we wear our many team colors to applaud our diversity and to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.  I looked around the room, taking in the many colors, and I was overwhelmed with emotions.  I had never really thought of it like that, but he was right.  We are all different in our own way and yet, we are ALL God’s children.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall
to the ground outside your Father’s care.” – Matthew 10:29

Dr. Gorrell left us with a challenge this week: to find someone who is different than us, and make him/her feel appreciated and valued.  I challenge you to do the same.  In what ways this week can you show someone that he/she is worthy and loved?  And in what ways this week will others show you the same courtesy?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Attitude of Gratitude

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." - Melody Beattie



Have you ever taken a personal inventory of your life and asked yourself, “How did I get here?” or even – “How do I get out of it?” Don’t worry. You are not alone. In fact, I have never met a person that has been completely content with his/her entire life. And I would like to believe that is the way God intended it. If we get too comfortable or complacent, then we leave no room for growth. And if there is no growth, then change is nonexistent. We become stagnate… and eventually die. Therefore, change is a way of life; it’s inevitable.

With every change comes some uncertainty or uneasiness about what the future holds, and it also brings a sense of restlessness into our current state of being. This reminds me of a quote by Andy Andrews in his book The Noticer, “Every life is either in crisis, coming out of crisis or headed for crisis.” I find an odd comfort in that statement, knowing that change is inevitable… and it might not always be pretty, but we will get through it, and what we learn from each experience will equip us for what is yet to come.

I’ve had my share of changes – some were disappointments and some were incredible awe-inspiring experiences - but with every change, came uncertainty… or even fear.  And I've learned over time that the best way for me to overcome these anxious feelings is through prayer and thanksgiving.  An attitude of gratitude might not fix my current situation, but it will give me the strength I need to see me through it.   

I found a great blogpost today on A Better You Blog by Patricia, entitled: 
How to Develop an Attitude of Gratitude.  Patricia highlights three key points:
  1. Get perspective. You can choose to focus on what you do not have, or make a conscious effort to notice what you do have. If you cannot see it, get a new view.
  2. Count your blessings. Name them, list them, draw them, but count them.
  3. Give thanks - show your attitude in word or deed.
Read more on Patricia’s blogpost HERE.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

YOU Can Make a Difference!

Do you ever question if your life really matters?  I do all the time… and then I arrive at church and I witness all of the lives that are being transformed each and every Sunday, because we:
  • Open our doors and our hearts.
  • Turn on the sound system and setup the cameras.
  • Worship with an incredible choir and musicians.
  • Share the awesome power of Jesus Christ.  
Sometimes, all it takes to make a difference is a gentle touch or a loving smile.  And sometimes, it takes us stepping outside our comfort zone and thinking outside our normal workflow to really make a difference.  Jimmy Carter once said, “I have one life and one chance to make it count for something . . . I'm free to choose what that something is, and the something I've chosen is my faith. Now, my faith goes beyond theology and religion and requires considerable work and effort. My faith demands -- this is not optional -- my faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference."

I stumbled across this story today on YouTube.  It’s a tribute to a young man who impacted many lives through his battle with Leukemia.  Please take the time to watch the video; you won’t regret it…

The following information was copied from YouTube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I7Wk14VWK4
 

Tyler Blaine Genneken: 02/22/95-11/04/09
On July 4th, 2006- Tyler was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. After going through many treatments, he went into remission. Then unfortunately cancer won the battle on November 4th, 2009...Tyler received his angel wings.

Throughout his battle, he didn't give up. Holding Bone Marrow drives and helping others, spreading the word, touching the hearts of many...opening doors that would have never been opened...opening the eyes of others how important and short this life really is in his short time here on Earth. He bestowed on us just how important ONE person really is. And how ONE person.... can truly make a difference in this world. For that HE is a HERO.




We become architects of eternity when we live the present moment well-- using unselfish hands to share lasting values and to create timeless memories. Some of life's most enduring and inspiring gifts will forever bless the lives of others if we will simply remember to pass them on. It's as easy as giving a hug, a smile, a helping hand.

YOU can make a difference...what are you waiting for?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Where Were You Nine Years Ago Today?

"Never forget..."



I will never forget that day... nor the feeling of that day.  Just like most of the rest of the world, I watched the tragedy as it unfolded on television.  I could not get ahold of family or friends, because the lines were jammed.  So I just stood in silence, watching the tv monitor.  I could not help but wonder if I would ever see my family again... and I was many miles away from the crash sites.  I can't even comprehend what horror, fear, and uncertainty the people directly impacted by the attacks must of been going through.

I remember today... so I will never forget.  Where were you nine years ago today?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Joy without Pain?

"In true community, we do not seek to eliminate pain, but to deepen it to a level where we all become one.  So we become a community where we know how to share in each other's suffering and pain... and joy.  But there is no sharing of true joy without sharing the pain."  I heard this statement in a devotion given by Dr. Norman Neaves.  When I heard this, we were on our way to visit Dachau Concentration Camp in Germany.  Norman presented us with a wonderful devotion each morning of our week-long travels through the beautiful countryside of Germany and Austria.  But this morning felt a little different than the others.

Norman began telling us about his own spiritual journey as a young boy.  He talked about the first time he, as a Methodist, stepped into a Catholic church.  He noticed that they too had a cross hanging in their church, but on that cross was the body of Jesus, hanging lifeless, covered in blood and bruises.  He was so moved by what he saw, that he knelt down in the church and began to weep.

Jesus suffered incredible pain and torture... and eventually death on the cross... so that we ALL can have everlasting life.  Not only that, but he is here with us today, suffering right along side us, feeling our pain and struggles and never leaving our side.  Wow.  That is a love like no other.
Memorial at Dachau Concentration Camp (Germany)

What if we were to love our neighbor like Jesus loves us?  What if we felt our neighbor's pain and struggles and never left his side?  That is true community.  That is loving as Jesus first loved us.  And that is where true joy comes from.

What about you?  Do you love your neighbor as Jesus loves you?  Or do you allow religion or culture to stand in your way?