Saturday, November 22, 2014

Don't We All Have a Little Scarlett O'Hara in Us?

         Do you remember the scene in Gone With the Wind where Scarlett O’Hara is desperate for money to save her southern plantation? She lost everything in the Civil War and had to work in the hot sun, picking cotton, to keep it going. She decided to visit the wealthy Rhett Butler and ask for money. She didn’t want to show up looking like a field hand, so she made an elaborate dress out of the ornate curtains in her living room. She meets Rhett and talks to him as if her life is going great, and she doesn’t have a care in the world. He is happy to see her, until he looks at her hands. He sees how rough and weathered they are and realizes the meeting was a charade, because she had been working in the fields, was penniless, and wanted money from him.
         I never understood that scene until I saw it again recently. She was pretending to be someone she was not, or at least, she was not representing her reality. She was doing her best to make herself and her situation appear better. 
         I remembered this scene, as I was getting ready for a networking meeting. I didn’t want to wear the old work shirt with our company name and logo on it. It’s not that I’m ashamed of the company, it’s that the shirt is old, too small and not in style anymore. It looks more like a mechanic’s shirt, than a marketing shirt. Envisioning the other women at the meeting wearing cute, stylish clothes, I wanted to wear something else. However, the truth is, November is a slow month for our company, and anytime we can get our name out there, it helps bring in jobs. But, like Scarlett, I didn’t want to appear desperate. I wanted to appear confident, like everything was going great.
         Don’t we all do that at times? A women wears a beautiful wedding ring, even though their marriage is anything but shiny. People drive expensive cars they can't afford. Others brag about their kid’s success, but leave out the reality of their strained relationship. Don’t most people present an I-have-it-all-together image on Facebook and social media, when their life may really be unraveling?
         Thankfully, God knows our reality. We don’t have to put on a fancy drapery dress and try to impress Him. He knows when our life is difficult  - maybe not picking cotton in the fields – but still painful and hard.  He loves us and has a plan for our lives.
         Unlike Scarlett O’Hara, we don’t have to rely on our land or Rhett Butler to survive. We have a God who loves us and will provide for us from His abundant riches. We know, as Believers, what David said is true:
“Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.”         
 Psalm 54:4
          Even though I didn’t want to, I wore my company shirt to the meeting. I prayed and trusted God would provide for us through the lean months, as He has for so many years.
               Have you ever acted like you had it all together, when you were really going through a rough time?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Leaving a Legacy

Memories are an amazing gift. Both my husband and my earliest childhood memory is of learning to tie our shoes.  Why is it we can remember some events with precise detail from years ago, but can’t remember other more recent events at all?
Last night we were at a home group Bible study.
We were discussing who God is . . .
         which led to how God has always wanted a relationship with us,
                           which led to when God’s presence dwelt with mankind,
                                           which led to a discussion of the tabernacle,
                                                               which let to us passing around a                                                                                                                   replica of a tabernacle for                                                                                                                   everyone to see.
          We discussed the details of the tabernacle and what items were in it. The most important part of the tabernacle was the Holy of Holies because God’s presence hovered above the Ark of the Covenant. (You know the Ark of the Covenant from the first Indiana Jones movie.)
          Inside the ark were three items:
a jar of manna,
the stone tablets with the ten commandments written on them,
and Aaron’s staff, which budded.
         Last night, after the Bible study was over, our 24-year-old son and his wife stayed and talked to us. He said he knew the staff budded because that was God’s way of choosing Aaron as the high priest over the other leaders from the twelve Israelite tribes. It is a small detail in the Bible, but very specific. We asked him how he knew that detail.
         He said when he was young I led a mom’s Bible study at our house. The mom’s brought their kids, about 12 kids in all. While the mom’s were studying the Tabernacle in the living room, one of the kid’s grandparents offered to teach this group of kids about the Tabernacle, upstairs in another room. For twelve weeks this amazingly generous couple spent two hours each week teaching those kids the details of the Tabernacle, using a flannel board and other props. They also brought snacks and games.

He said,
“Mom, that was the first Bible study I was ever in and I remember all about the Tabernacle from that couple teaching us. They were amazing. They were always prepared and had a flannel board and pictures. It was great.” 
My son was 4 years old!

         Four years old, and he remembers - twenty years later, about the details of the Tabernacle in the Bible because of the lavish love this couple had for the Lord, the Bible and teaching those kids.
          I am overwhelmed with gratefulness, again, for their amazing servant hearts. At the time, I thought it was so kind of them to take the kids so the mom’s could study the Bible. Little did I know what an impact it would have on my kids and our family.
To my friends reading this who teach little ones at church, Sunday school, Bible study and preschool:
               What you are doing is important and these kids do remember.                               Thanks for leaving a legacy!

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
 Matthew 19:14

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Changed Life

 “Do you want to do something beautiful for God? There is a person who needs you. This is your chance.”                                                       
-Mother Teresa


          A rough looking man with a long gray ponytail approached me. I was volunteering at the Guest Information table in the lobby of the high school where our church meets.
Looking at the stack of CDs on the table, he asked,
“Do you have last week’s sermon?”
“I’m sorry, we are all out of that one.” I said. “You can watch the sermon online at the website though.” I offered to him.
“Nah, I don’t have a computer.” He said, noticeably disappointed.
“Last week, I was high when I got here and can’t really remember what the preacher said. But I knew I needed to come back here. Now I am wondering what he said that made me have to come back.”
         The previous week we grilled New Mexican green chili cheeseburgers in the courtyard, after the church service. We invited friends and neighbors to join us for the free cookout.  A neighbor invited him, and he came back again this week.
         I offered to order the CD of the message from the previous week for him and have it at the table  the next Sunday.  I wasn’t sure he would be back. He didn’t look like the church going type.
         To my surprise, the following Sunday he walked up to the table eager to see me. I spoke first,
“Hi! Guess what? I have the CD of the message you wanted.”
“You do?” he asked. He walked around behind the table and gave me the biggest bear hug I have had. “You are the best! Thank you so much! I like this church. I think I am going to keep coming back.”
         Week after week, he faithfully attended church. He met people, asked questions, and enjoyed hearing God’s Word preached.
         A year later, at the next church cookout, he climbed into the outdoor baptism tank. His eyes sparkled and he grinned ear to ear, as he stepped forward to the microphone. To the crowd of several hundred people he said,
“My neighbor invited me to this church last year. I learned about a God who loves me and has forgiven me for everything I have done. He has changed my whole life.” He said, choking up. “I only wish I had found Him earlier in my life.”
         I admire the neighbor who befriended him and invited him to church. He had not come for the first few months, but she kept inviting him. He finally decided to attend because we were having a cookout with free green chili cheeseburgers. That day his life was changed.
I love the verse in Romans 2:4
“Don't you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can't you see that His kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”
         It was God’s kindness, through his neighbor, that changed that man forever. He only wished he had known of God sooner.
Has someone shown you God’s kindness? Do you look for ways to show His kindness to others?