Be a blessing

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. “ Matthew 5:16

Manners and etiquette seem non existent nowadays. People are too much in a hurry to just be nice to one another. I have been subbing at a school, watching the students when they are at break and lunch. On one of those days during the week, I get the wonderful job of directing parents during pick up after school. My job is to direct parents to pull up their vehicles, to allow the cars to flow through the parking lot. How difficult could this be? You have to follow the good old driving laws of the DMV. This particular day, I noticed, the cars were not moving. I could see that some people were crossing and assumed that is why no one was driving through. I soon realized I had a parent, park her car in the red and get out of her car and walk into the office. I walked over and stood by her car. She came out of the office and saw me standing there. I calmly asked her to please pull all the way up in the line or find an empty parking space because she was blocking other parents from passing through. She rolls her eyes at me and muttered some expletive. I smiled my biggest Cheshire cat smile I would muster and told her, “oh thank you so much, have a nice day” while I was mentally coming up with my own expletives. As she pulled into her space, her child came out. I saw it was a child that constantly causes problems and is super rude. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

On the flip side of this several years ago, I was shopping in a Carter’s clothing store. This store seems to bring out the worse in toddlers. They slip out of their strollers and start running through the store, hiding in the clothes rack or pulling items off shelves. This place had a germ garden, well actually, we know them as a play center, where they can play with trains, knobs and pulls or random Lego pieces. This one mother was holding her young son. He began to wiggle, then straighten himself and slip through her arms, like Houdini and start running towards the play center. Instead of yelling at him to come back to her or to stop, like I would have, she calmly said to him, “Be a blessing!” He stopped and turned back towards her and waited for her. He could not have been more than 3 years old. Yet his mother began to teach him about how his actions affect other people. I realized in that moment, how important this was, not just to young children, but for everyone, including me!

We cannot make people be nice or polite, but we can certainly be a model of that behavior. Have you noticed, when you do an act of kindness, people are surprised, confused or wanting to know what is your agenda? Regardless, I have chosen every day to do something nice or be a blessing to someone, stranger or not. Sometimes, I get no reaction, but most times, I receive smiles or a compliment. My pastor says, “If Jesus was walking the earth today, He would give you a hug and let you know you were loved.” I am sure not everyone would appreciate getting hugged, but a smile and friendly action would maybe make their day.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, this world gets more mean and frightening every day. Remind me that I am your hands and feet and that you want everyone to know they are valuable and loved. Help me to be a blessing. Create a generation that wants to show kindness. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”

Give up or press through

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

My husband called me from work one day. He said there is an opening at his school (the same school as our child) and it was a possible long term position. This job is to watch the students while they were at recess and at lunch. I can work while our child is in school, see her while I work and I don’t have to handle money. (I hate handling money!)

I called the office manager at the school and asked her about the position and how soon it was available. She asked, “Can you start tomorrow?” World turned upside down. I was going from 10 hours part time a week with another job to now add 20 more.

As a substitute, you are thrown in without any training, you learn as you go. The first recess included my child’s grade. All the kids in her grade were so excited to see me. Staff members and students were saying “hello” and asking me if I was there permanently. I felt like a rock star. Each grade section came out. Everything was going well. Then it was time for their lunch breaks. The second lunch break was for the 6-8th grade. This is where everything began to unravel.

I grew up with a mother from Asia. They do not mess around. If you show an attitude or disrespect, they let you know, you are making the wrong choice. So when I saw some of these students, blatantly ignoring the rules or me, I felt defeated, angry and frustrated. I wanted to say on the walkie-talkie, “peace out” for all to hear and go run for the hills.

It was the weekend after that horrid day. I was so tired and emotionally drained, I wanted to withdraw my application for the job. I hoped that somehow the school district would lose my application. I tried to take my mind off of it and read some emails. I had requested video series from writer, Lysa TerKurst. It was her guide to becoming a better writer. She talked about the process of writing and how difficult it was. I laughed out loud and said “nothing is like dealing with middle school children!” In her video, she made a statement that convicted me of my complaining. She said, “Give up or Press though.” She may have been referring to the writing process but this applies to life. It is so easy to give up and not care, than to continue to care and invest more time into something. I prayed asking the Lord to show me if this is a job that I should pursue. I didn’t hear an exact answer, but I heard pray for all the students, the good and especially the not so good. A lot of the children with bad attitudes and issues don’t have the best home life. Maybe no one is praying for them to change for the better, just praying for them to become someone else’s problem.

So I went in after the weekend, looking at this time here as a Godly assignment. I pray over the school for protection and for every student to find this school as a refuge and for deep secrets of pain to come to light. Whether my stay is short or long, I can contribute in some way.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for any opportunity you allow for me. I release the negative and unrealistic expectations over any situation I may be in. Give me discernment when something is challenging and show me how to give people grace and when to hold firm on boundaries. Let me see others as you see them. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”

“Being enemies is not an option”

Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9

Driving in Southern California is something that can turn a great day, into “let’s hope I don’t get arrested” situation. I just want to get to where I need to be with my family without feeling like our lives are going to be lost, whether it is from a dangerous driver or a road rage filled driver. There was an instance when my father needed to get a pre-operative physical and I was the only one who could take him to the doctor. I had to drop my child off for someone to watch and pick up my father and take him to his doctor. It was at a time during the day where, everyone was going somewhere. I was trying to get around a car and a woman cut me off and caused us to miss a light. I remembered I didn’t have any stickers on my car that showed I represented Jesus, so I proceeded to give her the “one finger salute”. Actually I showed her I had the ability to give her two salutes. She just laughed. As we continued down the street and every opportunity I had to get around her, she purposely cut me off and would slow down to have me slam on my brakes. I felt like I was in a moment of hysteria. Then, my daughter began to cry in the back seat. She told me she was scared. I began to cry. I was embarrassed that I didn’t let it go the first time. I apologized to her, took a deep breath, and drove the speed limit to where we needed to go.

I tried to let things go more when I drive now and to use my horn instead of my finger when necessary. I talked to a person about the situation and how much it bothered me. He said, sometimes, you need to think about that person’s situation and pray for them. That has helped me. A few weeks after that conversation, I was reading a blog post from writer Ann Voskamp. She mentioned an encounter she had with a farmer in Israel. She was helping this farmer replant trees in his orchard because he had all of his trees cut down by his neighbor. I am sure any of us would be huffing puffing mad. I assume she asked what did he do to get justice. But he answered her, “I refuse to be enemies with anyone.” I felt conviction and surprisingly, peace in that statement. I felt it was the Lord telling me I need to apply this when dealing with conflict, especially something as trivial as driving. We all have bad days and fly off the handle because of our circumstances. I think most of us, want to drive calmly and safely or to accomplish other tasks throughout the day this way. It just isn’t worth the conflict or become someone’s enemy. I do not advise to become the world’s doormat. We need boundaries and to be assertive when things are bothersome. I have learned we are all going through tough times in life and people’s foul actions are to be forgiven, just as God would forgive us.

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for helping me to recognize that we all struggle. Help me let go of the trivial and not begin a conflict that is not worth starting. I pray for protection over my emotions and feelings. I thank you for loving me despite my anger and rage. I thank you for forgiving me, when I do act out. Help me to have your thoughts for others. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!”

But their spiritual gift sounds better than mine

“In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.  So if God has given you the ability of prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.  If your gift is serving others, serve them well.  If you are a teacher, teach well.  If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging.  If it is giving, give generously.  If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously.  And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.”  Romans 12:6-8

 

As my walk with the Lord grew deeper, I began to wonder what were my spiritual gifts.  You hear what those gifts are preached in a sermon.  You pray about it.  You take tests that give you an idea of what they are based on the questions you answer.  I wish God would just speak from heaven and tell me exactly what I have to do, so I don’t wonder or waste time.  So, I took one of those tests.  I eagerly waited for the email to drop into my inbox and reveal my destiny.  I wanted it to say that I would be a teacher or a person of encouragement, something meaningful.  The test answer came and it listed my #1 gift as Volunteer Poverty.  My reaction was like a scene from a movie, when someone walks into a place and the record playing music scratches in the background and silence evades.

 

What in the heck is volunteer poverty?  I basically prefer to live a simple life.  I can live without Starbucks coffee and buying new clothes every few months.  I prefer fixing items instead of tossing them.  I don’t need the newest gadget.  I try to live a minimalist life.  I don’t always succeed, but if I needed to, I can definitely go without.  I would rather go without, so someone else who needs it more than me, can be happy.   I guess that can be a virtue but it doesn’t feel like it could advance the Kingdom.  I wanted my gift to be world changing, I want to make people see His glory.  Well, this is where I went wrong.  “I want” should be “Lord what do you want me to do and use me”.  Then there are seasons where God wants our focus on our family for a length of time.  I have been a stay at home mother for a few years now.  When our child went to school full time, I figured I would get a part time job (and I did).  I think society and just overall financial pressures made me feel I had to work to contribute.  People have this idea stay at home mothers just sit there and do nothing.  But I was doing something…I was staying home to raise my child to be a good citizen in this world.  We sacrificed fixing the home up, going on vacations, buying more “crap” so I could be there for my child.  I guess scoring high on volunteer poverty helped me not be disappointed about no vacations.  Every time I thought about what could I be doing more to bring income or feel productive, I would get little hints that where I was in this stage of my life was just fine.  I saw a book recommendation on Facebook called “Home Matters” by Sue Wilson.  It reminds me of a Christian home economics study on steroids.  It is awesome.  First hint was, I had someone say, your missionary field right now is your husband and child.  The second hint happened, when,  I was at a home group at my church and was getting that thought again, “am I really being productive?”  The enemy loves to torture us with repetitive thoughts.  Just then I was feeling cold and the host brought me a blanket.  I kid you not, that blanket was embroidered with the saying, “there is no place like home”.

I am learning to be content in the season I am in and looking forward to what God has in store for me.  I will continue to pray that God strengthen me in the gifts He wants me to have and pray everyday for the opportunity to show people how much God loves them.

 

(I do want to give a shout out to all the mothers out there, who have careers and work full time.  I praise you for having the strength and endurance to do both.  It is exhausting to do either one, but to do both, I am tired thinking about it.  This post was for me expressing being content in where I am, not saying staying home is meant for all.)

 

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, I know you have a plan and a purpose for my life.  Whether you reveal it to me now or in the distant future, I thank you for it.  Give me experiences and opportunities to grow and mature and to be equipped for whatever it may be.  Remind me when I feel discontent at the current time and wonder why am I where I am, that there is something being planned.  Help me to do  the best I can whatever season I am in.  Time is fleeting and it will be over before I know it.  Thank you for making me unique and that there is no one else like me.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”

Days #71-79

It is so important to make sure your mental health is well, healthy.  It is OKAY to seek help.  Recently, I have been dealing with someone who has never asked for help in this area.  They think everyone is at fault except for them.  I know their past has haunted them and this is why they are the way, they are.  While it hurts my feelings with the words they spew, I have to make sure my boundaries are keeping me safe.  The most important thing is asking God, what to do.  It sounds so cliche, but if you remove yourself from all the noise this world puts out and just listen, you will hear the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit instruct you in what do do.  I am always trying to fix things and make things happen.  But it hasn’t always worked out. Simply ask, “Lord what is it you want me to do”…trust me, something will be said.  It may not be what you want, but it is what is right.

To be healed or not to be healed…don’t ask that question.

“Is anyone among you sick?  Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” James 5:14

 

I started volunteering at my church during the week by cleaning their Children Ministry rooms.  As I spent my time over the next few months, I got to know some of the staff that would be there on my day to come in.  We would talk about anything and laugh about everything.  I looked forward to seeing these wonderful people.  There was a young woman, who had just became a new mother to a precious girl, that was their bookkeeper.  As we got to know each other, I found out about her on going health struggles.

 

One day, I felt this prompting from the Lord to openly pray for her healing.  It seemed easier to want to do it because, she is a Christian, but I was still scared to.  Every time I walked past her office, I kept feeling the nudge to go.  I would try to find something else to clean and ignore the feeling and just pray on my own.  But the feeling became overwhelming.  I started to shake and I felt this heat coming out from the top of my head.  I dropped what I was doing and walked over to her office.  She was walked out of her office and saw me.  I asked her, “May I pray for you because I feel like God wants to heal you right now.”  She looked stunned and said, “give me a moment.”  I told her I would be in the room by her office.  She came back and I started to cry.  I was so overcome with emotions.  She started to cry because I was crying.  I collected myself and told her, “God loves you so much and He wants to heal you.” I prayed my heart out, I prayed for every organ that was causing her troubles and commanded them to heal and restore.  I was praying my butt off (I am allowed to say that?).  Afterward, I was waiting for that Hallelujah moment.  I was waiting of her to proclaim she was healed.  I look at her and she is still and quiet.  I asked her, “How do you feel?”  She says honestly, “Still in pain.”  My emotions deflated, like a balloon you blow up and let go and it goes sailing around the room.  I wanted to crawl into a hole.  I wanted to lock myself into a closet.  I was embarrassed and mad.  What happened?

That Sunday after service, I went up for prayer.  One of the pastors was available for prayer.  I don’t know why I even wanted prayer, but I brought up what happened with the bookkeeper and expressed my exasperation.  He said to me, “Do not take on the burden for who God heals.”  It was such a short sentence but so profound.  I immediately felt the burden leave me.  I felt free.  He next said, “You heard the Lord and you were obedient.  That is what mattered.  God heard your prayers.  Keep praying always and right now you can pray for me.”  He asked me to pray for him and I did.

I saw the bookkeeper the following week on my cleaning day.  I asked her how she was and she told me she went to the hospital a couple days ago.  I didn’t know what to say.  I probably turned red and green at the same time.  She said, “As I laid there in pain, beginning to worry about this latest episode.  God reminded me of your prayer.  I began to think of what you prayed and it helped me get through the rest of the hospital stay.  You brought me comfort.  Thank you.”  I told her I would continue to pray for her healing.

Whenever we are obedient, God reveals something for us to learn.  I wish we can all be healed miraculously, but most times it is a process.  I read this from Pastor Bill Johnson”s Q&A on “Is it always God’s will to heal someone”.

 

“If someone isn’t healed, realize the problem isn’t God, and seek Him for direction as well as personal breakthrough (greater anointing for consistency in healing). Also, don’t take it personal. There are other factors involved besides great faith. That is only one element in the equation. Just learn to do your best to be faithful to His gospel, and honor Him for the results. It’s also not wise to blame the person who is sick.  There’s a difference between a miracle and healing. Miracles happen in an instant and healing happens over time. It is important to recognize the progress of what God is doing in a person’s body and give thanks, because healing increases in an atmosphere of thankfulness.”

Prayer:

“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your son Jesus to die on the cross, to save us from our sins and heal us from our wounds.  Holy Spirit please give me discernment and wisdom to pray for people’s healing.  Help me to not be discouraged when it takes a long time or if they are never healed.  Protect me when I pray for the sick.  Reveal the victories in the journey of healing.  In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!”