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Monday, February 25, 2013

Smart Phone? Yes! Me? Not So Much

Guess what? I gotta new phone! Well, I got it at Christmas and my husband COMPLETELY surprised me because he is…shall we say… retro without trying to be!? My man will hold on to something until the wheels literally fall off!! I mean… wow.

Ok, so  at Christmas he told me that he was going shopping and, in true form, he was gone for HOURS. We sometimes think he may never return. When he came home he had a Target bag with a few small things in it for our daughter. NOW! In his defense she had the flu and was right underneath us so there was little hope of whispering little ideas to each other. He truly was on his own and so I thought, “Oh, bless his heart. That’s all he could find, but he tried SO hard.”

Yeah.

Later I found out that my man had been at Verizon and was deciding on which smart phone to get… FOR HIMSELF! All the while knowing that I had been begging, pleading, on my knees for a new phone. He feeds me this story that his OLD AS DIRT phone (not even lying… people joked that it was the first one made and had a crank! LOL!) had completely died and that he just had to try to figure out something so he went to the store and they were so busy and he had to wait forever and he blah, blah, blah…. I was SO mad. He even said, “Well, this one is a demo. I can’t decide and so the guy (which is our friend in real life) let me use this one until we could talk.”

I was not talking.

I was so MAD and tempted to start playing with it and doing all sorts of stuff, but I knew that if I picked it up and started loving it then I’d just be even madder so I just tried to pretend that this new phone, with all of these features that I’d wanted forever, was not lying on the night stand staring me in the face. The problem was HE was ignoring it, too! I kept saying, “Well, aren’t you going to learn how to use it!?” He just said, “Naaa… what if I don’t want to keep it and have to give it back. We need to talk about what we wanted to do.”

Well, in the mean time life happened. He went to work, I had Christmas stuff to figure out with a sick kid in tow…

Until the day that this little package was lying on the counter. It kinda looked like a wrapped package of gum, but it was a little larger. I did not even touch it. It didn’t have a name on it and it was something that he’d wrapped so I thought maybe it was something for our girl.

We go to his parent’s house on Christmas eve and he is carrying this little box. He says, “This is for you. I hope you like gum.” I just rolled my eyes.

That night as we opened gifts he hands it to me. I just took it and opened it. I didn’t ask questions. No one said anything about wondering what it might be… I just took it. I tore the paper off… and OH MY WORD!!!!!!!!!!!!

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I seriously just sat there with my mouth hanging open.

His phone? Not a demo. All that time he’d spent trying to find US the best deal so that we both could be updated and we’d have something we’d really enjoy. I, on the other hand, felt like such a BRAT for acting like I did and for being mad at him. Then again… he lied quite a bit just to pull off the surprise!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Arms In, Hands Up and Enjoy the Ride!

I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 10 years old. Until I was in my 20’s I seriously thought that God was a rule enforcer that loved me and wanted what was good for me, but not as the leader and Lord of my life. I am POSITIVE that I did not know what that meant… much less how to live that thing out!

Over the course of the last 20 years (I can NOT believe I am old enough to say that!) the Lord has shown me that my ways, thoughts and ideas have been in the forefront of my life and He has (in my eyes) been the Counselor who helps me get out of the messes that I make. For so long I would pursue what made me happy and then if it failed I’d run back to Him, with scraped knees and tears, asking what went wrong!?

The past 5 months have been completely different.

I’ve shared in past posts so much about the new clothing ministry that He put on my heart. Let me just honestly admit right here that He has done every single bit of it!! Those of us that are a part of it are just that… a part of it. It is much bigger and much more impactful and much more crazy than ANY of us could dream it might be. Only an AMAZING God with a mighty, mighty hand of power could bring such things into being and cause such blessings to occur. I just get to stand by and watch HIS hand at work and usually… I am one blubbery mess as I just stand, with my mouth open and tears streaming down my face, in awe of Him.

I could write a post every day and not be able to tell you all that happens that He just orchestrates like it all was planned from the beginning of time.

Here’s a little example. (Believe me… I could tell you SO many little examples, but here’s one)

We have shoes that we give away. As you can imagine, we have to be pretty picky about the shoes because they are used, but they are much needed and they go quickly.

I was convinced from the beginning that the clothing ministry would be a place of beauty and dignity so we were not just throwing shoes and clothing into boxes so that people could just dig through like they were at the landfill. No, we’d do it with grace and love and beauty or we would not do it. This would represent our Lord to the community and He is all of those things.. and so much more!

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SO… we have struggled with a shoe display and how we’d make them look presentable. One day we were just talking about how we needed something to put shoes on. It wasn’t a prayer. It wasn’t an effort to look for something… we just discussed it.

The next day… THE NEXT DAY… I got a message from a girl at church. “Hi, Melissa! I have a friend who needs to get rid of two low bookshelves because she is moving and does not want to take them with her. They are free. Can you use them?”

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Seriously?!?!?!

Over and over again He brings just the right coat.. just the right sizes… just the right amount… just the right person at just the right time to meet needs that might not be met otherwise! To some it might seem small, but to those who have no means to shop for things that they need it is HUGE and it opens doors for us to share that God loves them so much and He wants to provide for their needs!!

Never in my life have I been willing to do something that God put on my heart like this. I have always questioned how it would happen, who would step up, how it would fall into place and where the time and money would come from. He has shown me just how narrow and limited and pitiful I am and how mighty and able and what a Provider He is!!

I don’t know what God is telling you to do, but take it from me, all you have to do is say yes. It is the RIDE OF MY LIFE and I can not wait to get there each week just to see what HE is going to do!! He will do it for you, too!! He will!!

Just get in with both feet! Be committed to do whatever He tells you to do… even if it sounds CRAZY. Wait on Him to move and you just HANG ON!!! You will be tired. You might be dirty and you might question things at times, but I can not imagine NOT seeing His miracles just because of my own limitations. It won’t always be smooth sailing and you will hit bumps in the road, but His promises are true and He does not call us to more than we can handle.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

In Training

My leaving for 12 days in the near future has put my little family into serious “training” mode. When we think about how all of us work together to make our home run, and then add in the missing mama… well it makes all of our heads spin.

One of the issues with Caroline is her inability to plan. It’s called motor planning and she struggles with this quite a bit. The “what comes next” factor is really hard for her and it effects every area of our lives. Common questions are, “What should I put on first?” when getting dressed and “When are we doing that?” even when it is a part of our everyday routine.. like after homework she needs to know what we are doing next even if it is to get ready for dinner and bath every. single. day!!! One of the reasons that she loves school is because they do the exact same schedule everyday and she knows what will happen (for the most part) without even thinking about it.

The past few days I have had her clothes ready and I’ve told her what to do and walked out of the room.  Most days, for the sake of time (and lack of whining) I just stay in her room with her while she is getting ready and if need be I just do it myself. When I leave for Africa I’ve told her that I will have all of her clothes matched up and instructions for each day so that she will know what to do while I am gone. It is going to be up to her to get herself together while daddy is getting ready! Oh boy! This should be interesting!!

There’s also the morning routine of breakfast and making lunches. I usually help both my hubby and Caroline get their meals together! You think they are going to starve?? I think I have decided that I am going to put together lunches (sans the sandwich) and have them in baggies. That way they can just make the sandwiches and put the rest in their lunch boxes and GO! Or they can just eat out or in the cafeteria at school, right?

Even yesterday, as I did laundry and talked to my mom on the phone she asked, “Does Steve remember how to work the washing machine?” Ohhhh… well, he hasn’t in quite a while! Wonder if he does know what to do? Twelve days is a long time for wet towels and wash cloths to sit!! He is so good and helps me so much around the house, but I typically do laundry when I am off and he is working. He has had no reason to worry about that until now!

My friends and family have been extremely supportive and encouraging, including the two that live under this roof with me. They seem to think that they will be JUST FINE and that if I just have them organized they will be able to make each day a success. Boy, I hope so! Who is going to remind them that they “BETTER HURRY UP!?” They are running late??! Or what about for Caroline? “YOU BETTER BRUSH YOUR TEETH SO THEY DON’T FALL OUT!”  and “You HAVE to wash your hair and your body so you don’t run off all of your friends!?”

Ok. Maybe they will be GLAD to have some peace and quiet for a few days!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Our Very Personal God and a BIG Decision

Don’t you just love how personal and real God is!? Sometimes I am literally speechless (which is a feat for me!) and left in complete awe as I realize how He just shows up to meet specific needs!!

This past week at the clothing ministry we saw 22 families in one day. I think a new record was set!!

One lady went to our food pantry first and they referred her to us. She came to the clothes closet and was just beaming. She told me that she had something to tell me and she was so excited!! She said that she was a single mom with 2 kids and a dog. She has been out of work and every bit of food that they buy or receive has to go to feed her and her kids. She has been worried that they could not keep their dog because they could not afford his upkeep, and she has been so sad because they love him so much.

She said that while she was at the food pantry she just thought that she’d mention the dog and their need for his food. The man explained that they don’t usually have food for pets. She said that while they were still talking a woman came in the door. “Hi!” she said. “I was wondering? Could you guys use any dog food? I have a 35 pound bag in my car that I need to donate!”

SHUT UP RIGHT NOW! Can you BELIEVE IT!? Not only did the woman donate the food, she also called and scheduled to have the dogs shots updated and his toe nails cut at HER vet’s office.

As you can imagine this single mom, who is out of work, seriously NEEDED a miracle. She wanted to take care of her responsibilities and she was just seeing no way out. She was beside herself with joy and her faith was strengthened that day because she knew that God had provided for her needs!

I can not tell you how many similar stories we see over and over again!! Our God provides the right sizes for families with multiple children. He provides the right article of clothing for the ones searching for clothes to wear to interviews, and He brings tears to the eyes of so many as they breathe a sign of relief that their needs have been met once again.

It is so amazing to see His hand at work and to be a small part of that process just makes my heart soar!

As a result of spending time in the clothing ministry I seriously want to do more. I know that my ongoing mission field is right here at my back door.  I also know that I have never been outside of the U.S. to go into other nations to share the truth of His love and sacrifice for them.

SOOO… this April I am joining a team of 8 and we are headed to Mozambique, Africa to help missionaries on the field in their effort to reach that area for Christ. I realize that 11 days in any location is not long enough to make a HUGE impact, but I sure would like to try. We would like to encourage the missionaries to press on and hopefully help them reach the villages with a VBS type approach. I am very excited about the possibilities of  planting  seeds in the hearts of those who are in remote areas of the world.

Our trip is not until April, but I have applied for my passport and have already gotten meds and vaccinations so that I can prepare to go. The plane tickets have been bought and the team has been assembled. My heart is being prepared daily as the Lord speaks to me about His provision for me, my family and my team while I am away. He is so faithful and I am so humbled that He’d be willing to allow me to serve ANYWHERE!

It’s true. Sometimes we leave a mission field to serve another. Sometimes we don’t even see the mission field that is right under our noses. I wanted to begin here. I wanted to seek His will for me to serve in my own town and know that I am doing what I can in my own community before leaving and serving another. He is showing me that BOTH are vital ministries and that I need to be open to going where He leads.. whether it is across the street or across the world. Both are also major adventures that are taking me on the wildest ride, and I am LOVING every minute of it!!