Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My need for today!

Okay, I admit it - I am a people observer.  Stephen Smith posted this to his Facebook page and I was immediately drawn to the sign the man is holding.  It is a piece of cardboard with the following written in Magic Marker - "Need 13¢”.

I began going through a gauntlet of questions in my mind and kept asking why just 13¢?  The photo was taken in Alaska and that amount of money will not go very far in today’s economy.  Driving around town on any given day I will see men holding signs asking for gas money, money for food and the occasional “I’ll work for money” signs.  But I have never seen one asking for 13¢, have you?

If this man was standing on a busy corner a number of people would be willing to give him the 13¢ and he could make a fair amount of money in one day.  But, then my mercy side (and I don’t have very much mercy) kicked in and surmised that he may have needed the money to finish paying for a utility bill or buying milk for his children.

There have been days when we all need just 13 more cents worth of grace from those we come in contact with everyday.  We may have been hurting and could not talk to anyone ‘with skin on’.  But, dear one our Heavenly Father is only a whisper away and He is willing and able to supply you with abundantly more than 13¢.  If you can’t talk to someone ‘with skin on’, just lift your eyes toward heaven and talk to the one who created you. He is waiting to hear from you.

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”  2 Corinthians 9:8

Thanking my Heavenly Father for my 13¢ today.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Do Something, please

How many times have you heard someone say “It’s not my job” not jokingly but totally serious?  Over the years at work I heard this countless times.  Being the ‘take charge of the situation and I’ll do it myself then I will know it is done correctly’ person that I am – I would do whatever needed to be done and we won’t talk about what I was thinking.

I have also heard “It’s not my job, we have people paid to do that” or “It’s someone else’s turn I have done my time” at church.  This is disturbing to me because the Bible tells us in Romans 12:3-5 that a church is all the members working together as one.  “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:  Do not think of yourself more highly that you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.  Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”

Each of has a job to do in the church.  We all have spiritual gifts that were manifested in us when we received Jesus Christ as our personal savior.  These are found in Romans 12:6-8, “We have different gifts according to the grace given us.  If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.  If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let me do it cheerfully.”

It is easy to ignore things that we need to be doing and we can come up with all kinds of excuses.  My personal favorite happened several years ago.  I called a young lady and asked her if she would pray about teaching a two year old Sunday School class.  She immediately said – “No, I might get pregnant”.  I was completely taken aback by this quick response.  I wanted to say that I had never known of anyone getting pregnant teaching two years olds.  This job was usually more of a visual aid for birth control.  But all I said was “okay and thank you for your honesty”.  How often do we give an ‘off the cuff’ answer instead of giving someone the time in prayer they requested?  In hind sight, I am glad she said no to teaching pre-school because it was not her spiritual gift.

Do you know what your spiritual gifts are?  God gives us spiritual gifts so we can build up His church.  Notice I said us and we and them and they.  We don’t all have the same gifts but we must all dedicate our gifts to God’s service and not our own personal agenda, success or ego.  We must be willing to utilize our gifts and not hold anything back from God’s service.  If you are stepping out in faith to use your gift for the first time, rest assured that our gracious God will give you the faith and power you need to complete the assignment.

These are some of the things you can do in your church to best use your spiritual gifts:
1.  Gift of prophesying – this doesn’t mean predicting the future but more interpreting the past by preaching God’s message to all people.  If God called you to preach – don’t miss your call by arguing with Him.
      2.  Gift of service – there are countless areas within the church where you can serve; hold a baby in extended session, Wednesday night kitchen duty, sing in the choir or play in the orchestra, be a greeter, work with local missions and the list is endless.

      3.  Gift of teaching – teachers with a heart for God are always needed whether it is in bed babies to senior adults, discipleship training or children’s church, you are needed.

      4.  Gift of encouragement – people blessed with the gift of encouragement often prefer to work in the background, they place value on others and want to be used but not out on the front lines.  Our church has a small group of ladies who meet every week and send cards to people who are ill, having birthdays, are homebound and some who just need a touch and to know that someone cares.

      5.  Gift of contributing – the first thing we think of with this gift is ‘money’.  Some are blessed financially and give freely to help others in need.  Others pray diligently for God to bless the 90% left after writing the tithe check. God needs your time.  The time you can devote to caring for others by preparing a meal for someone who is ill, or using your talents to help a family whose home is need of repair.  The list is endless of how you can give of your time.  We don’t all have the same amount of money but we do have the same amount of time and we need to share it with others.
      6.  Gift of leadership – churches need good leaders for committee work, for their organizational skills and most of all for their ability to lead a team in the right direction.  A true leader knows God is in control and He places people under the leaders who will benefit and learn from the leaders skills.  A good team leader plus a good leadership team equals a successful ministry.
      7.  Gift of mercy – people with the gift of mercy are very special.  Everyone wants mercy to be shown toward them but many of us do not have this precious gift.  On the spiritual gifts test I score the lowest on mercy.  But, I am learning with the help of the Lord to extend myself into this uncharted territory.  People with the gift of mercy are always smiling, ready with a hug and an open heart.  I personally believe they will have extra jewels in their heavenly crowns.

We all have something to do in our churches and in our communities.  Matthew West has a new song entitled “Do Something”.  Please read the words and then ask God what He wants you to do for Him.

I woke up this morning
Saw a world full of trouble now
Thought, how'd we ever get so far down
How's it ever gonna turn around
So I turned my eyes to Heaven
I thought, "God, why don't You do something?"
Well, I just couldn't bear the thought of
People living in poverty
Children sold into slavery
The thought disgusted me
So, I shook my fist at Heaven
Said, "God, why don't You do something?"
He said, "I did, I created you"
I’m so tired of talking
About how we are God's hands and feet
But it's easier to say than to be
Live like angels of apathy who tell ourselves
It's alright, "somebody else will do something"
Well, I don't know about you
But I'm sick and tired of life with no desire
I don't want a flame, I want a fire
I wanna be the one who stands up and says,
"I'm gonna do something"
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it's time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It's not enough to do nothing
It's time for us to do something

Until next time, I am living for Him,

Thursday, July 10, 2014

God is a gentleman

Our God is such a gentleman He opens doors for us all the time and He will even close the doors when the time comes to an end. Sometimes He cautions me before I open the door for myself instead of waiting on Him. Even then He will love me through my journey. There is a special door He wants to open everyday and that is the door to my time with Him. One of my favorite hymns is "In the Garden".

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known
I'd stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

Have a blessed day my friends.


Monday, May 5, 2014

113 Days of Experiencing God's Extraordinary Grace

This is not the way I had envisioned beginning this blog.  I have had the name for the blog for several years and have written and re-written the first blog many times.  But God continually said "Not now, be patient".  So I have waited and waited.  Now God has shown me that I have a story to tell about my relationship with Him and not about a relationship with someone else.

I have a story to tell you about the last 113 days of my life and how God's extraordinary grace has changed my life.

In 2002 I was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation caused from a congenital heart problem.  I have been treated with numerous medications all of which failed.  During the 12 years I have been shocked about 30 times. The object of being shocked is to stop your heart and let it re-start on it's own.  My heart is stubborn and does not like to be shocked and I have to convert on my own with the help of my Heavenly Father.  On Friday, January 10th of this year, I woke up at the usual time but I didn't feel well.  I was light headed and dizzy all day and very tired.  When I got home from work the first thing my husband, Bob, asked me was "any a-fib?" I told him no because I knew that I would have felt my heart beat differently if it was indeed a-fib.

The next morning, I had a women's leadership annual planning meeting.  I didn't really feel like going but it was at a neighbor's home and it was close by.  I was still having the same light headed and dizzy feelings.  If the team looked back on that day they would probably have sensed something was wrong because I was uncharacteristically quiet.  When I got home all I wanted to do was to go to sleep and rest.  I slept in the recliner for several hours that afternoon and was awake for a short time before going on to bed for the evening.  Bob had already told me if I wasn't better by Monday I was going to the doctor.  On Sunday morning when I awoke the symptoms were getting worse and I stayed home from church and slept.  When Bob got home he tried taking my blood pressure but we thought the machine wasn't working correctly because all it would read was "ERROR".  I slept most of the day and was getting worse by the hour.

On Monday morning I was unable to get out of bed without help.  Bob had called the doctor and we had an appointment at 10:00.  I was taking a shower when things really began to escalate.  I was leaning against the wall of the shower to keep from falling and when I stepped out of the shower I blacked out for a few seconds but was able to sit on the toilet seat and call Bob for help.  He helped me to the bed and again he took my blood pressure.  This time the machine worked and my blood pressure was 82/40 but the heart rate still read "ERROR:"  I told Bob that I needed to go to the ER.  I don't know how I got dressed or even how he was able to get me in the car.

I was having difficulty breathing and felt like I was coming in and out of conscientiousness.  About two miles from the hospital breathing became more difficult and within seconds I was unable to breathe.  I could not inhale or exhale and all I could hear was a gurgling sound.  I remember pulling up to the ER and that is where time stood still for me.  Everything began turning white.  I could not see anyone but I could hear voices and I knew I was in a wheelchair.  I don't know how I got into the wheelchair or out if it for that matter.  I knew I was in a room with two people.  A woman was on my right and a man on my left.  They were asking me questions and I was answering them but they couldn't hear me.  I have since found out that when you have a near death experience your mind doesn't stop working.  They were asking questions and I was answering them in my mind.  The white was getting whiter and brighter.  The warmth, peace and calm I felt are indescribable.  I have never experienced anything like this peace.  I could hear the man and woman discussing what was wrong; he said "I have never seen a-fib like this" and she said "it isn't a-fib, it's v-tack we may need a crash cart".  I began praying for the person who needed the crash cart not knowing that I was the one they were talking about.

The white was getting whiter and glowing brighter but at the same time there was a peace that was consuming me.  The next thing I heard was "we're loosing her where's the crash-cart?".  That was the last thing I heard.  I remember I told God that it was okay because I was ready to be with Him and I asked Him if this was what death felt like.  Then I heard another voice that had not been in the room.  The voice was soft, kind and gentle and the man said "God isn't finished with you".  I then felt a pain go through my body and it hurt so bad that it was almost more than I could stand.  They had shocked me.  Since time stood still for me I don't know how many minutes had passed and have never asked.  But, when I was able to open my eyes I began saying "God isn't finished with me" and everyone in the room just kept agreeing with me.  Then I asked who said that and no one knew what I was talking about.  I explained to them that a man said those words to me just before they shocked me.  The nurse said she believed it was my guardian angel because I definitely had one. One of the doctors said that when people of faith have near death experiences no one can explain exactly what happens to them because they are the only one who really knows.

One of the doctors told Bob that she thought he would talking to the funeral home instead of her and just a few minutes more it would have been too late to revive me.  You see the gurgling sound was me and I wasn't breathing. My lungs were filling with blood.  The human heart stops pumping and begins to quiver at 300 beats per minute.  My heart rate was 333 beats per minute.  We don't know for sure how long that rate was sustained and exactly when I stopped breathing.  But we do know this - on January 13, 2014 my Heavenly Father reached down from His throne in Heaven and bestowed on me more grace and favor than I deserve and for that I will be forever grateful.  I thought I would be able to describe what happened but words cannot do this event in my life justice.

I spent the next several days in ICU Step Down.  I was flat of my back and unable to get up or to turn over. God and I had several conversations that week.  Sometimes it was as if He was sitting on the side of the bed holding my hand and re-assuring me that everything was going to be okay.  The Holy Spirit filled that hospital room just as it had filled the ER room because I felt the same peace and calm over and over again.  I didn't make God any big promises.  I knew better than to do that because the promises I make to Him are too easily broken.  I just listened to Him and He told me what He wanted me to do.  He wants me to show grace to the people I come in contact with.  The same grace of God that I was shown. I told Him that I would do the best I possibly could to carry out His will for my life.  He isn't finished with me and we have a lot of work to do.

On February 13th, I underwent a 5 hour heart ablation.  Max Lucado has the same heart problem I do. When the ablation is done they go inside your heart and remove 'trash'.  Max asked his doctor if he could remove the lies, sin, and all the other trash while he was in there.  His doctor told him that was above his pay grade.  If it were only that easy.  I am on medication until my heart heals, which should be sometime this summer.  I am working again with fewer hours and I am enjoying life to the fullest.

One day my friend, Joyce Mills, told me that I had changed during all of this.  I asked her to write down the changes and this is what she wrote:  "Betty, I have noticed several changes in you since your life changing experience.  The changes have been - you are much calmer.  Things to do not bother you as much.  You take one day at a time (just like the song).  Relaxed might even fit here.  There is a peace.  Both with yourself and with God.  I see God in your everyday living.  I see a smile on your face, laughter from your voice and an overall happier person.  All the changes have been for the glory of God because all things happen according to Him.  Love You Friend"  Words cannot be shared with anyone on how much this letter means to me.  She knows me better than I know myself and will always be my friend and sister by choice.

I know God has called me to women's ministry and I don't know where I am going with Him but I am ready to serve and share His grace everyday for the rest of my life.  My first assignment was to share my testimony at a retreat last weekend with 48 women from our church, I did that.  The next assignment was to post this blog, assignment completed.  Be sure to watch my blog for things to come including a Bible study.  God has opened many doors for me in a very short period of time and I praise Him and give Him the glory for what He has done and is doing in my life.  He is the giver of life and He has given me a  purpose for my life in and through Him.  To God be the glory.