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Thursday, June 18, 2015

One on One

Mother Teresa said, “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.”

I’m finding that ministry is just this.

Just today at the Clothes Closet a lady came in with her teenaged autistic son. He’s very tall and just a big guy. A gentle giant. He has a sister that has no issues and he has a mom that loves them both.

And… they are homeless.

The mom looked so nice with a scarf around her neck and a black sundress. Her son was dressed in shorts and a tshirt. They were clean. The daughter was away at a camp that she had gotten a scholarship to attend.

It’s just that they are homeless.

Once she found a few things for each of them she asked me if she could talk to me. As I walked from behind the counter she asked if I might have soap? Deodorant? Anything that might be a little extra?

I went to the area where we store extra items, found a few things and as I walked back to her she asked me if she could have a hug. As I hugged her neck she just lost it. Broke down. Hugged me tighter.

I asked how things are and she said that they are just place to place. On one friend’s floor, another friends bonus room… wherever they could stay so they weren’t on the street.

As soon as I mentioned a shelter I remembered… she can’t do that. Her son can’t stay with her since he’s a male, teenaged and autistic. He would be placed in an institution while the system tries to find a place for her and her daughter.

She’s stuck.

We walked outside and she continued to talk about working, losing her job due to her sons needs, working again, losing her job. She just feels trapped and she knows that I don’t have answers. It’s bigger than her and bigger than me, but it’s not bigger than our God. She DOES trust Him. She does know that He is with her, but she has moments where she doubts. She has times when she feels discouraged and hurt and afraid.

It’s in times like these that soap, deodorant and a few clothes feel like very small offerings. The mentioning of resources are small talk when TODAY she doesn’t know where their little family might stay and there’s a process that must be endured.  I can’t say that I know that this lady has always made good choices or that she uses her resources wisely. I do know that in many ways we are the same.

We are women.

We are moms.

We know that God is real, loves us and is in control.

We don’t always make good choices.

We could sometimes just use a listening, non-judgmental ear to hear our story and affirm that some of our choices are not so terrible.

We need Jesus every. single. day.

That kind of ministry does not take a leader to come in and tell us what to do. It takes us being willing to admit that ALL we have is Jesus to offer and that He is enough. We have to believe it ourselves before we can give it away. We have to be willing to hear someone else’s pain and remind them that our God is a strong tower. One on one. Just you and them… and Jesus.

I remember when the pastor came to my house to tell me about Jesus when I was 10 years old. I was in the 4th grade. I remember him showing me what baptism was and him telling me that when I trusted Christ as my Lord and Savior that I would be able to trust Him with my very life.

Are we telling others? Are we faithful to remind people that, even in this day and time, He still holds everything together? We need to hear it and we need to tell it. We need to help others hold on to hope and we can do it all… one on one.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Prickly

This tree, ya’ll. I hate it. It has been a thorn in my flesh (literally!) for years. It’s prickly. It’s huge and it’s planted on a slope so no matter how big my ladder I can never reach the top to trim it without being punctured a million times. I mean little bloody places on my arms, ya’ll.

So it had gotten waaaay out of control. There were sucker shoots and the tree had grown onto the house because I was in denial. I didn’t want to touch that thing with a ten foot pole.

I came home from exercising today and when I drove into the drive way there it was. Just ugly. Prickly. On my nerves. I had to do something.

I got out the ladder and the clippers. I started looking at the tree and I realized that maybe if I stood back a bit, started trimming before I got on the ladder that maybe I could get in under control. I just stood there looking at the hateful thing and thinking about how I just didn’t want to fool with it, but it was there. It was a sight and it needed some attention.

Things started looking a little better. I started trimming and while branches fell to the ground, and pricklies were making places on my arms I was actually making a little progress.

There’s one section of the tree that has no prickly branches because it faces our house. It is towards the back of the tree and as I made my way around the back of the tree a sudden little wind blew and rustled the branches. It caused me to look up and when I did I noticed that basically the branches made a nest of sorts. All around the trunk of the tree were no prickly leaves, only branches that reached out towards the sun almost like a protection for the heart of the tree. Standing there at the base the breeze continued to blow and it was so peaceful for a minute. No prickles.

Now I don’t know about you, but God sure does speak to me at some weird times. In the shower. When I’m cleaning out closets (the birth of the clothes closet) and, apparently, when I’m trimming hateful bushes.

Here’s what I heard.

“You know those prickly people in your life? You know the ones that you sometimes steer clear of because they are so prickly and messy? You know those situations that come up that you think are too hard? Well, sometimes those are just hurt people with branches full of prickly leaves that are protecting their hearts from pain. They really don’t know how to deal and so they just grow more and more prickly. I bet if you started… just started… with them you’d make some progress and get to the place where you might be able to help make a difference. This tree can use some pruning and ignoring it has just made it worse. Maybe that’s the case with those situations, too.”

UGHHHHH! I don’t want to hear THAT! It’s too hard. THEY are too hard.

Well, anytime God speaks to my heart through situations like that, whether I want to hear them or not, I can’t get them off of my mind. I am positive that the Lord is going to bring a situation to my heart that needs to be addressed and THEN?? I’m going to have to obey. It’s not an option.

The thing is that every time I try to approach those prickly people it almost always seems to not go well. I know for sure that I won’t be able to do it on my own and only the Lord knows their true hearts and situations. He alone can make all things new and give me the words and wisdom to help make things right. I think the thing to do for now is to start praying for these situations before I even begin to approach them. His plans are perfect and His ways are right. He can show me how to navigate the hardest of situations and how to love in the midst of it.

I can promise you that if I try to go it alone… well, I’m just going to walk away with bloody pricks again!

“I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5