Blessed to Bless

It was a normal Thursday night at the restaurant. Several truckers were happily eating a well-deserved supper, the motorcycle group’s order was well under way, and David, an older gentleman, was in for his nightly visit.

“Do you want some coffee tonight?” I asked.

“No, I guess not tonight. I don’t get paid till tomorrow.” came his reply, “I’ll just take a glass of water”

I wasn’t surprised. This wasn’t the first time he had to turn down a cup of coffee.

“Order up!” I turned around to spy a big cheeseburger and some fries sitting in the window. Grabbing the plate, I scanned the dining room for the cheeseburger’s owner. There he was sitting at table 7. He was taller man wearing a tan jacket, with kind eyes, and his brown hair pulled back into a low ponytail.

“This must be yours.” I smiled as I set his food down. “Is there anything else I can get for you right now?”

“Let’s see…I’ve got my cheeseburger, fries, and there’s some ketchup. I think I’m set.” came his cheerful reply, “There’s just one more thing. Would you go ahead and give that man over there some coffee and just put in on my ticket.”

“Sure thing.” I was surprised by his generosity, “That’s very kind of you.”

“Well, I believe that the good Lord blessed us to bless others.”

The good Lord blessed us to bless others. The word echoed in my mind, challenging me to live as this trucker did – ready and willing to be used by God by blessing a fellow human being. Even if it is just an endless cup of coffee for $1.35.

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My Heart is Crying….

The other day I ran across this video. http://www.faithit.com/somewhere-god-telling-someone-they-need-adopt-5-kids-we-need-get-this-story-to-them-asap/ Click the link. Watch the video. Let your heart break for these dear kids. This story is way to common in the US.

According to the heart gallery of America, there are nearly 400,000 kids in foster care in the US. 101,000 of them are up for adoption. Approximately 25,000 teens will age out of the foster care system this year without a family. There are also approximately 450,000 churches in the US. Think about that. 400,000 kids in foster care and 450,000 churches. Finding homes shouldn’t be a problem, but it is.

The Bible says that pure and undefiled religion is to visit the widows and orphans in their distress. To care for them. To be their families when they have none. It seems to me that American Christians are missing something huge. How can we not open up our hearts and our homes to these children when God opened up His heart to us. Can we not love unconditionally no matter what the cost even as Jesus loved us unconditionally.

Don’t make excuses. The Father has already called you to love them through His Word and His perfect example. It’s up to you to pursue this opportunity. Pursue it with all your might, and if the Lord closes the door and nothing works out, than so be it. However, if the Father blesses you with the opportunity to help them, to be their family, their friend, Praise the Lord and embrace the challenge. While it may not be an easy road, it is a road that comes with unmeasurable blessings.

Meanwhile, please pray that Joshua, Dominick, Christopher, Caleb, and Zareya will be able to escape their prison and find a family, a forever home, where they can all be together. One that will show them the love of God by loving them unconditionally. And while your doing that click this link http://www.heartgalleryofamerica.org/Galleries/index.html. Look at the pictures of these children. Stamp them upon your heart and pray for them. Love them by praying for them. Beseech the Father that every one of these kids will find their family. And more than that, pray that they will someday come to know the unconditional love of their Perfect Father, God.

God and the Dream

In 13 days I begin a new normal-college. Yep, this girl is headed off to college and am I ever thrilled. Alright, alright, a little scared to…but mostly excited, thrilled, excilerated beyond words.

Two months ago college was just a dream. I had looked into going this fall, but I missed the scholarship application date-or so I thought. One day I received a letter saying “You are elgible to apply for the GED Honor Scholarship…” To say I was excited was an understatement. I had wanted this so bad and thought I had to wait till next year. And then suddenly, there it was within my grasp. Could it be possible?

I sent for my application, figured out the complications, and sent in my application. And then I waited, and longed, and prayed, and dreamed, and hoped. Then, I waited some more.

One day after work I told Mom, “I’m going to go get the mail. There might be something exciting.” Was there ever!

All I had to read were the words “It is my honor to present you with the GED…”

“What! I actually got it! Oh, thank you Jesus! Mom, Dad, read it, read it…” To think that my God actually blessed me with this opportunity is incredible. I squealed, danced, jumped, laughed, and cried for joy.

Some days I am still baffled by the fact that Almighty God, the God the Universe, did this for me. Who am I, that God would give me a scholarship? I am as dust to Him and He gave me an opportunity to fulfill my dream.

Then I remember, He loves me. Wait, He loves me, that little dust mite? Yes, He loves me and He loves you to. The Bible says that He plans for His children to prosper. He longs for our success. He thinks about us constantly. He wants to lavish us with His love. He gives us good gifts when we ask Him. I don’t understand His love for me, but I don’t have to. All I need to do is accept and abide in His love for me.

Thus, I continue the daily journey deeper into His love. College is just a stop along the way. If you think about it, pray for me the next couple years as I pursue my Registered Nursing Degree.:)

Obsess 2014

The beauty of my Jesus is incredible. The way He allows everything to happen so perfectly in such a timely manner is astounding. This past week I was the photographer at Obsess (http://www.prayerobsessed.com/) and I must say it was plum amazing.

The week didn’t go quite as we had planned. We were planning on beautiful, sunny, hot days. Instead, we got rain every day and those of us who didn’t bring anything long-sleeved ended up on the cold side every once in a while.

The first morning it rained right as we were starting breakfast.(hobos)All the luggage was still out in the open. Thankfully we had just enough warning to get it into shelter, though the skies didn’t wait to open until we were done with breakfast. We rushed all the campers up to the session tent and ended up staying there till lunchtime. (This downpour resulted in my Bible and journal being soaked through. After spending the rest of the week in front of the fan, my Bible is well recovered though it is a bit fluffier than it used to be and has a couple more stories to tell.)

God’s hand of protection was over us that day. Just north of us there were over 800 lightening strikes in 5 minutes. All we got was rain.This is incredible as on our session tent there are two poles that tend to work as lightening rods. One staff member said she pictured the angels all around us, shielding us from the lightening. It’s a beautiful picture.

Awesome tidbit: In the middle of the night I woke up and heard the rain, wind, and the thunder outside my tent. “Dear God, please take away the storm,” I mumbled in my half-asleep daze. Much to my delight, within the next five minutes the storm had begun to calm down. My heart proceeded to do a happy dance:)

The next day we were also rained upon. Thankfully the downpour started after we were all seated in the safety of the session tent. Session came and went, and it still continued to pour. We had a beautiful time of praise and worship as we waited for the rain to end. It made me so incredibly joyful to see all the campers stretching their hands toward Heaven in adoration of God Almighty. It was beautiful. This was definitely a highlight of my week.Image

Once again, God blessed us with protection. Just  five minutes down the road was a lightening strike that resulted in a grass fire.

Finally, after lunch the rains ceased and the sun began to shine. Due to the rain we were a couple hours behind schedule, but everything worked out wonderfully. All but two groups finished their initiatives, yet I believe it worked out better this way.

The next morning, (Saturday) all the campers gathered around the pond to cheer on the Purple team. Lining the bank of the ponder they sang “Bind Us Together Lord”. As they were singing the Purple team boarded their raft. Much to the dismay of one rafter, the raft dumped. This rafter is terrified of water. When she dumped, her fear became overwhelming. The Purple team gathered around to pray for her. Sixty campers and staff members cheered her on from the bank. Several clusters of girls dotted the bank as they prayed that God would give her courage. God answered mightily. He gave her an amazing friend who did a wonderful job of keeping her mind off the water as they crossed the pond. She has the amazing and empowering experience of conquering her fear, and I believe that God used her fear to bind us together. ImageImage

Once the Purple and the Orange teams finished what their activities, we ventured off down the hill, around the corner, past the cliffs and into the forest. There we found an incredible maze of rope woven through the trees. All the campers were blindfolded and told that they must follow the rope and find their way out. What they didn’t know was that the only way out was to ask for help. This initiative was quite depressing to watch. It reminded me so much of myself, stumbling through the maze of life. I wonder if the way that I felt watching these girls try to find their way was a taste of how God feels sometimes;sadly watching us trying to find our way, yet eagerly waiting to answer our cries for help.ImageImage

This is far from everything that happened at Obsess this year. There was the nitro crossing, the challenging sessions, and the beautiful banquet. There are dear friends that I made, memories to laugh over, and an amazing God to praise. The presence of God was evident has He moved in the my heart and in the hearts of everyone there. Obsess 2014 didn’t go as planned, but it was a great success.

O, and I must not forget to mention this amazing view. If this doesn’t display the awesomeness of God, than what does?Image

 

The Writers of God

I stared in wonder as my guide led me to the massive library. It seemed to go on for miles and miles. As he led me through the door, I questioned him, “Who owns this library?”

“The author and the finisher of our faith,” my guide answered, “He is also the author  of every book in the library.” He opened a book. “This book holds the story of a beautiful lady who followed the call of God, surrendered everything she had, and dedicated her life to serving God.” He opened another book,     “This book contains the story of a ten-year-old child who died of cancer.”

I ran my hand across the spines of the books. Every book had a different cover and title. Their titles had a very special meaning that described the life of the main character. The cover was unique in the way it represented that person’s story. It told if the story was sad, or if it was happy. It told of the mighty forces of God conquering the evil forces of Satan. Each book told a unique story of one of God’s saints. Every story was different, yet they all told of how the love and  forgiveness of God can prevail over the evil hold of the Devil.

As we walked deeper into the library, I noticed tall, beautiful figures writing. Some were sitting at tables, others were standing with their book in one hand and a pen in the other, but they were all writing. “What are they writing?” I asked gesturing toward the writers.

“They are writing the stories of saints still living,” replied my guide, “those saints who are not yet finished on earth; God still has awesome plans for them.”

“What are their stories?” I implored, “may I hear them?”

“Some, but not all,” replied my guide, “this writer over here” he gestured, “is writing the story of a young man who overcame his fears of what others think of him and is now using his resources and talents that God has given him to impact the world in such a way that others will know that God reigns. And that young writer over in the corner, is just finishing the story of a young lady who was martyred because of her love toward our Savior.”

My guide told me stories of young people, old people, happy people, and sad people. He told of those who are laughing and of those who are crying. Every single person was absolutely amazing and had a unique story. Every single story showed the love of God shining through darkness. I cried when people were rejected and shed tears of joy when they overcame that rejection and showed others God’s love.

As we approached the center of the library, I noticed a cluster of distinguished  scholars standing around a large book. “That book,” said my guide, “is the most precious book in the library.”

“Why is it so precious?” I questioned my guide.

“In it is written the story of our Savior,” offered one of the students, “It is the story of the One who came to earth and offered himself as a sacrifice that we, who have broken God’s commandments, might live. Without this story, there would be no other story. This story is the beginning and the end of every single story. All the stories you have just heard are built around this book. That is what makes it so important.”

“That is the truth,” agreed my guide as he led me once more toward the seemingly endless sea of writers.

As we passed through the writers of God, I paused next to a table where a young writer was busy writing. His laughing eyes glanced up at me just a moment when I asked my guide, “And who’s story is he writing?”

My guide grinned a little as he answered, “This young writer is writing your story.”

The Whipping Post

     I sat there in my jail cell, shackled to the wall with heavy chains. I was a notorious criminal; I had broken every command in the land and now I was paying the price.

     I heard the sound of heavy chains dragging along the cold ground as the guards hauled another prisoner to the whipping post. I shuddered as his eerie screams echoed down the long corridor. I knew I was next. My shoulders sagged at the thought of the agony I was to endure. I knew I deserved it.

     My head jerked up at the sound of the guards outside my cell door. As I was roughly jerked to my feet and led down the dark corridor, I began to protest loudly.

    “No!” I cried, “You can’t take me. Just leave me alone!” I began to fight the guards with the last of my fleeing strength. It was no use. Their strong hold never weakened as they dragged me down the corridor.

     Finally giving up, I allowed them to chain me to the whipping post. Arching my back, I listened for the sound of the whip whistling through the air. Gritting my teeth, I prepared for the stinging pain, but it never came. Instead of the whip whistling through the air, I heard a kind voice next to me. In the place of stinging pain, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder.

    Glancing up, I saw Him. The Man who had tried to befriend me for so many years. The Man who I turned my back on. The One who I scoffed and taunted day after day. I looked away, ashamed that He should see me like this.

     As He unchained me, He commanded the guards to chain Him in MY PLACE.

     Bewildered, I staggered back. Did He not see these filthy rags I wore? Did He not see the whip in the guard’s hands? Did He not remember everything I had done to Him? Did He not know of all the crimes I had committed?

     As the whip whistled through the air, He looked into my eyes and I began to understand. As the whip came down on his back, sobs began to rack my body and I crumbled to the ground. As His mouth opened in an agonizing scream, I realized that He did see. He saw it ALL. He saw the filthy rags I wore. He saw the chains on my feet and the jail cell I sat in. He knew of all the sin I had committed. He knew it all, yet He took my place at the whipping post.