A blog about finding God's way on the journey with our children, our family, our jobs and our community.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Perfect Mistake
Author Unknown

My mother's father worked as a carpenter. On this particular day, he was building some crates for the clothes his church was sending to orphanages in China. On his way home, he reached into his shirt pocket to find his glasses, but they were gone. When he mentally replayed his earlier actions, he realized what had happened; the glasses had slipped out of his pocket unnoticed and fallen in one of the crates, which he had nailed shut.His brand new glasses were heading for China! The Great Depression was at it's height and Grandpa had six children. He had spent $50 for those glasses that very morning. He was upset by the thought of having to buy another pair. "It's not fair," he told God as he drove home in frustration. "I've been very faithful in giving of my time and money to your work, and now this."

Months later, the director of the orphanage was on furlough in the United States. He wanted to visit all the churches that supported him in China, so he came to speak one Sunday at my grandfather's small church in Chicago. The missionary began by thanking the people for their faithfulness in supporting the orphanage. "But most of all," he said, "I must thank you for the glasses you sent last year. You see, the Communists had just swept through the orphanage, destroying everything, including my glasses. I was desperate. Even if I had the money, there was simply no way of replacing those glasses. Along with not being able to see well, I experienced headaches every day, so my co-workers and I were much in prayer about this. Then your crates arrived. When my staff removed the covers, they found a pair of glasses lying on top." The missionary paused long enough to let his words sink in. Then, still gripped with the wonder of it all, he continued, "Folks, when I tried on the glasses, it was as though they had been custom made just for me! I want to thank you for being a part of that." The people listened, happy for the miraculous glasses. But the missionary surely must have confused their church with another, they thought. There were no glasses on their list of items to be sent overseas.
But sitting quietly in the back, with tears streaming down his face, an ordinary carpenter realized the Master Carpenter had used him in an extraordinary way.

There are times we want to blame God instead of thanking Him! Perhaps it is something we ought to try more often, "Thank you God for not allowing my car to start this morning." He may have been saving your life from a car accident. May God bless your day today. Look for the perfect mistakes."

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Service Through Volunteer Work
Sir Winston Churchill once said, "We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give." I saw this come to life on Tuesday night at the Volunteer Appreciation Dinner for KARM.
We experienced some really joyful celebration over dinner while taking the opportunity to honor many of the remarkable volunteers who serve tirelessly at Knox Area Rescue Ministries. It was an exciting night of food, fun, entertainment and fellowship as we issued a heart-felt "thank you" to people who regularly give of their time, talents and treasure. The evening's musical treat was provided by our own David Lay, Nathan Sharpe and Cynthia Russell. Through their talent, these servants honored God and thanked our volunteers for all they do!
It was so exciting to walk around, meet people and hear about how they are serving the needy by volunteering at KARM. What I heard several times from the guests was how much they loved what they do in their volunteer work and how serving at KARM has deeply impacted their own lives. I was overwhelmed with stories of leading others to Christ, wonderful parties while at Serenity, opportunities to lead a chapel service, the excitement of teaching Bible studies to our Lazarus Hall men, the joy of serving meals, and the times of fellowship while on duty at the Front Desk.
It occurred to me on the drive home that I heard a consistent theme throughout each of these simple acts of service: The idea of people loving other people for and through Christ; sacrificing (even though no one would admit that it was a sacrifice) and providing encouragement and hope to God's children.
An exciting highlight of the evening was listening to the amazing impact God's transforming power has had on Clifton James, a Lazarus Hall resident at KARM. Several volunteers told me this was 'confirmation' that God was somehow using them to help speak His words to the lost through their service at KARM.
We praise and thank God for all the wonderful and dedicated volunteers who sacrifice their time to serve the least, the last and the lost through partnership with us. God has shown me that while many people in our community drive past KARM and turn their head, some even driving faster, locking their car doors and hurrying to get away from the mission, these volunteers are the few who specifically get in their car and drive into the mission - most looking very forward to arriving for their shift, most not wanting to leave when it is completed.
And on my way home from the volunteer banquet Tuesday night, I somehow knew that God was smiling because of these volunteers, and He was well pleased with their obedience.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What's Going On in the world of American Women Anyway?

This past week something hit me about the truth in why American women are feeling the need to have everything that sags, tags and bags lifted up above their heads. It all started when I saw a neighbor "working" in the garden in a string bikini top and shorts that wouldn't make a decent dish towel in a kitchen for Polly Pockets. Am I supposed to pretend I don't notice that my neighbor, once flatter-chested and age appropriate in her facial expressions, now looks as though she might very well have Jimmy Hafa hiding in her blouse!! Come on, who do you think you are fooling out there! For goodness sakes, have a little self respect!

Almost immediately my minds' eye wandered to a cartoon of my neighbors husband. Why was he not giving her the assurance she needed as a woman - his wife - that she was beautiful (and she was) just the way she was? Had he encouraged her to take the plunge and fill her body full of toxic waste that some call silicone? Had he held the mirror and offered the 'encouraging words' that she would 'look so much younger' after the boob job and face lift? Well, here's what I would say to all of you considering cosmetic surgey...."STOP THE INSANITY YOU IDIOT!!"
While cosmetic surgery isn't new to movie stars and billionaires, it seems that it the normal joe and commoners are making this practice an everyday occurence in America. It is a question that arises with alarming frequency while watching television these days. In the 'olden days' it seemed the birthright of only TV's pioneers. Joan Rivers has talked about her surgery so many times over the years that it's part of her routine. Indeed plastic surgery is so acceptable, it has its own genre -- from reality makeover shows to FX's "Nip/Tuck," lipo, lifts, Botox and implants are as much a part of the cultural conversation as braces and contact lenses were in my younger days. Except braces are temporary, contact lenses invisible and cosmetic surgery, well, it seems to have gotten out of hand.

Want to try a very scary experiment? Okay then, Google the name of almost any female actor older than 20 and the term "cosmetic surgery," and you will be deluged with blogs and websites devoted to deconstructing famous faces and figures, often in the most clinical terms -- several of the sites are run, apparently, by actual surgeons who offer their expert analysis. But among those who are being analyzed, plastic surgery has become like gambling in Las Vegas -- a billion-dollar industry that no one admits to paying for. OMG!!!

Okay, well here is what runs through my mind when I see my neighbor - I am so sorry. I want to say "I am so sorry." I want to say it. So, here it goes, just for my neighbor:

"I am so sorry that you didn't have the confidence and comfort level to age naturally in your own skin - the skin God blessed you with. I am so sorry that your husband didn't let you know how beautiful you were - inside and out - and how he wanted to live the rest of his life with you and grow old with you. I am so sorry that somewhere in your past you didn't grow to like yourself enough or learn that life was not really about looks or that LOOKING the best didn't really mean that you WERE the best. And I am sorry that you must think that looking 10 years younger really gives you 10 extra years on this earth. And I am so sorry that I didn't tell you how great I thought you were or thank you for being a good neighbor or compliment you on what a great job you did with your garden. I thought you were so pretty and I thought you were such a great lady. So please know how sad and how sincere I am when I say, I am really sorry."

Women of America we need to come clean. We need to host a town hall meeting and wake up American women to the truth without seeming like we are engaging in some form of gotcha. Watching 78-year-old Barbara Walters, for example, her face painfully taut and shiny, trying to speak out a few understandable words through her botox and silicone absolutely breaks my heart. Or how about the ridiculus look that Priscilla Presley is sporting these days. Its enough to make Elvis turn over in his grave and ask, "Who the heck is that????" If we don't do something, I would think it not too far-fetched that my thirteen-year-old might be attending Botox or plastic surgery home parties at 25 instead of Tupperware and Pampered Chef.

I say, Women of America, you are beautiful! God has blessed American women with determination, bravery and tenderness that make us a unique breed. An unspoken sisterhood has always connected women to women -- we instinctively know how to seek each other out for comfort, for companionship, or solace and for support. And HELLO -- We are not all superstars who fill the pages of expensive magazines. We are American women - ordinary women going about our everyday lives with grace, optimism and resiliency. We ARE American women - beautiful women, smart women, women embodying the spiritual and emotional connections that unite us a working women, caretakers, lovers and friends. So throw out those notions of what makes American woman beautiful. Because I, for one, don't want to be remembered for being beautiful. I want to be remembered for doing beautiful things. Are you with me?