Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Meanwhile... and some Bon Jovi :)

There are no words...
I love Jon Bon Jovi. Period. When I was in junior high and MTV still had music videos, my heart would melt as I watched him sing about how I was born to be his baby, and he was made to be my man. So naturally, I was super stoked when he was scheduled to be at the Greenbrier Classic a couple of years ago, and thrilled beyond belief when my sweet cousin texted me to tell me she had scored some tickets and asked if I wanted to go with her… Um, yeah!!!! It was beautiful.

But even Jon Bon Jovi had a time before he was singing to me from my television set. He was a kid. He was a teenager. He had jobs. Turns out, while he was trying to make it as a musician, he was working on and off as a janitor.  Can you even imagine? Walking down a hallway somewhere and there is Jon Bon Jovi with a dustpan… Awesomeness.

This was Tara and me and a few
other random people at the concert...
It was pretty much awesome :)
While Air Supply was singing about being “All out of Love,” and Queen was declaring that another one had, in fact, bitten the dust, Jon Bon Jovi was cleaning something somewhere, all the while making demos and hoping for a break.

Other “Before They Were Stars” include Madonna working at Dunkin’ Donuts, Jennifer Aniston working as a telemarketer and a waitress, Morgan Freeman with a paper route, and George Clooney trying out for the Cincinatti Reds, but not making the cut.

Acts 7:53 gives us a glimpse into the Apostle Paul’s “Before They Were Stars” moment.

“…Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.”

At this point in the book of Acts, Stephen had been doing all sorts of miracles and sharing Jesus’ story with everyone, causing nonbelievers to get worked up. They accused him of blasphemy. When asked if these things were true, Steven goes on to give a beautiful speech, summing up a great deal of the Old Testament and accused them of resisting the Holy Spirit. You can imagine how well that went over.  They dragged him out of the city and began to stone him.

“Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.”

We get a subtle introduction of some guy named Saul. Saul, a man who would later be known as Paul and do miracles, write at least 13 books of the New Testament, and lead continents to the Lord.

His “meanwhile” was holding coats for people who were killing others for preaching about Jesus .

But God had other plans for him. I’m so thankful for God’s plans.

What plans could God have for a girl who, meanwhile, was writing a blog…

For a guy who, meanwhile, was painting some cars…

A woman who, meanwhile, was cooking in the cafeteria…

A man who, meanwhile, was unemployed…

A woman who, meanwhile, was teaching 3rd grade…

It’s exciting to think about… We are going about our daily business, and God steps in, and mixes things up, making even more beautiful things happen.

Listen for His direction.  (Sometimes He goes drastic to get our attention - you know, like with the whole 3 days of blindness for Saul). Sometimes it's in line with what we are already doing. Sometimes it isn't. Follow the passions He has put in your heart. Say yes when He gives you an opportunity. Show His love everywhere you go.

If we are still breathing, God can use us. Our stories aren’t finished. Thank you, Lord!

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” – Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Compassion and a sweet little bird

"If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love wtih words or speech but with actions and in truth."  - I John 3:17,18

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you."  - John 15:12

I've said before I'm not much of an animal person. I'm glad there are animal people in this world, but I am not one of them.

But then one comes along and makes me eat my words.

On Election Day, Noah and I were hanging out at home (still in our PJs after lunch time... heaven). He was resting on the couch feeling crummy after five vaccinations from the day before. All of a sudden, we hear a thump on our glass window and see a bird flopping around on our front porch.

I felt guilty that I had done such a great job with the Windex that morning, until later when someone told me that the bird didn't think he was flying into my living room, but that he saw the reflection of the "outside" instead. (Which makes sense, because I actually never do a great job when it comes to Windex, or most cleaning, if I'm being honest).

I was going to go the route of "Just don't look out the window again until your father comes home," but Noah, being a much more compassionate soul when it comes to God's creatures, hopped up and ran outside to check on him.

The poor thing had a floppy wing and a bloody mouth. I was really pulling for him to take off and be okay. I was praying for him. I had other people praying for him.  Noah tried to give it water to drink and rinse it's mouth out, which was working quite well. It was still able to walk a bit and fly a foot or two. But that was it. So we went inside to give it some space.

*At this point, I am sure some of you are thinking we ruined the situation by being too close and touching the bird and leaving our "scent" on the little guy. I will point out that he was a regular bird, not a baby, and I will share this link to prove that the scent of a human doesn't mean the end even for a baby bird, let alone one that is full-grown.

I saw a couple of other birds nearby, and felt relieved that they would come help our injured friend. But they didn't. I watched them, expecting them to at least get close to inspect it, offer it a nudge, or at the very least, offer some sympathy. But they gave him nothing. They went on about their business like he wasn't even there.

I thought if anyone could help our bird, it would be other birds. A bird would know what a bird needs, right? I had no idea what our little friend needed.

But the birds didn't bother stopping to help. They kept on doing what birds do, looking for worms and chasing each other (it's spring after all ;) ).

I had to wonder if God ever feels that way about us. I was watching out my window, feeling so disappointed that those other birds were so self-involved that they didn't bother showing mercy or compassion to our wounded buddy. Has He seen us do the same thing?

Has He watched us become so busy with our own stuff that people around us who are hurting or sick suffer alone because we don't take the time to share their pain? Has He watched us pass by someone who is so sad, without taking the time to care because we are busy or don't want to be all up in their business?  Has He watched as people suffer starvation while we throw out our leftovers?

I am preaching to myself right here. I need to pay attention to those around me. Family, friends, neighbors and strangers. If there is an opportunity for me to show the love of Jesus, I need to do it. Father, forgive me for when I haven't. My prayer is that my eyes will be opened to these opportunities, so that I don't stay focused on myself, my needs, my goals, but that I will actively show the love of Jesus to people around me every chance I get.

Join me? Let's look for opportunities even today.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Makeovers, hippies, and some direction

I love a good makeover movie. She's Out of Control, where Ami Dolenz's character goes from nerdy girl to to high school beauty in a five-minute montage, is one of my favorites. Another is Pretty Women, where Julia Roberts' character goes from prostitute to Richard Gere's character's love-of-his-life...

(I've included a much-too-short clip at the end of this blog...When she goes back in to see the sales ladies after some shopping- LOVE IT!) 

And I was inspired myself to give a hippie a makeover. Probably a year or so ago, Noah and I were shopping at a yard sale at the church I grew up in. He found an antenna-ball-smiley-face-hippie that we just had to have.

My hippie looked rough after all these months in the elements - faded, bald, and missing her accessory. I considered buying a new one, but decided a makeover sounded so much more fun. So she got one.New coloring, new hair, and a new headband. She looks like a new woman :)

My Hippie - Before and After

When we bought that cute hippie at the rummage sale, I had no idea how essential she would be for me.

I thought it would be much later in life before I needed to make special arrangements to remember where I parked my car, but the time is now. I have wandered the parking lot many times looking for my car, where it's like looking for the low-fat section of an Olive Garden menu... you know it's there, yet can't quite put your finger on it... And there were times I had nearly gotten into a car that wasn't mine (It looked like mine, okay? I'm not completely crazy yet). But thanks to my adorable hippie, I can spot it easily (Most of the time I still don't know where my keys are, but that's another story).

My hippie gives me direction. Her smiling face says, "Here... We're over here! You've found us! We're waiting for you!" And I clearly need the direction :)

My Bible is like my hippie. It's my direction. Psalm 119:105 describes it like this...

"Your word is a lamp to my feet
     and a light for my path." 

That's His Word - lighting our path so we don't lose our way. Showing us which way to go. Guiding and leading.

If you've ever had to walk in the dark, you know it's easy to lose your way. Even a trip to the restroom during the night can leave me bruised up from misjudging where the footboard of our bed or the doorframe is. But with a nightlight, things go much more smoothly. Outside at night, a flashlight or a street light can help you see where you need to go. You're not mistakenly headed down any wrong paths.

The Bible is full of so many great things. I have been reading it more regularly over the last couple of years and I am falling in love with God's Word. There's wisdom, helping me know the things that are important to God - loving Him, loving other people, having mercy, living selflessly. There are examples of God's faithfulness, directing us to trust Him because we have seen how He can be trusted. And there are some crazy stories I had never learned or heard, like Ehud and the fat king (Judges 3:12-30 in case you have missed that all your life too). And sometimes scripture is a message from God to you, meeting you right in the messy situation you are in. I've had Him use verses to speak to me that way, just when I needed it, bringing with it peace that could not be explained.

So read it. Not because you have to, but read it because it is what you need

Here is the Pretty Woman clip... :)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Do Your Thing

Carny started out in our family as a tiny goldfish Noah won at the Barboursville Fall Fest more than a year and a half ago. He fit nicely in a tiny bowl, with a tiny plastic plant. No filter required, just a fresh bottle of water every other week. We haven't had a fish last longer than three months except our miracle fish, Moon. Carny continued to grow, so we upped his tank to a  2.5 gallon tank, still just changing the water as needed.

**Side note - Moon, the miracle fish, happened when Noah and I had walked through Wal-Mart one day, looking at the pet supply section, with Noah asking for a fish. I told him we would need to discuss it as a family, rather than just getting one and going home with it. Noah must have talked to Someone above me, because late that night, there was a ringing of the doorbell. I ran to see what it was, without considering how unsafe it is to just open up your door at 11p.m., and found a water-filled-baggie with a tiny goldfish. I still don't know who did it, but I'm pretty sure I know Who told them to do it.

Carny kept living and growing. So with little room to function in the tank, we decided on a 10-gallon tank, complete with filter and light. Carny didn't adjust well. He had all this new space to swim and explore, but he kept himself in the back corner. It was like the light and the buzzing of the filter were too freaky for him and he couldn't handle it. So here was this huge space for him to enjoy, relax, explore, and navigate in, and instead, he stayed hunkered down near the back corner floor, only coming up for food occasionally. It was hard for me to understand... If only I could speak "fish" I could've told him it was safe, it was better for him, that he would love it! I would've told him to trust me.

I can just imagine that God would love to tell me some similar things at times, if only I would listen. 

Often it takes me too long to get on board with what God wants me to do. I like to be sure :) But I waste so much time and miss out on so much because of fear. Sometimes I wimp out completely and don't do it at all. The times I haven't let fear hold me back have been so meaningful and beautiful that I should never let fear bully me again.

I mentioned in a previous blog that God had been nudging me to open my home to neighbors for a Bible study, get to know them, involve myself in my community He has placed me in. I prayed about it for more than a year, and finally got the nerve to do it earlier this year, passing out flyers to every neighbor in my subdivision. We just finished our first book study, and these four ladies mean so much to me. The conversations we have had, things we have learned from each other, prayers prayed over our families and our problems, and friendships formed - I couldn't be more thankful. We are starting a new book this week!

I would've missed out on all of this if I had stayed hunkered down in my corner of the tank.

God didn't make me swim out alone. He was there right beside me, giving me what I needed, when I needed it. He said in Isaiah 41:13,

"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.'" 

Is there anything God is asking you to do? Know that He won't make you do it alone. God has purposes for each of us. Sometimes it's a big thing... Adopt a kid, teach a class, change occupations. Sometimes it's a seemingly smaller thing... make dinner for someone, babysit, cut someone's grass, smile. Each one of them is important.

Whatever it is, do that thing. It's your thing. It's the thing that God has planned for you right now. Don't miss it. There's a whole 10-gallons out there that God wants to share with you.