Wait. What?" I asked, as Justin handed me a bottle of lotion.
"Yeah but only rub down the guys who need it and are too weak to do it themselves. Some of them just like it. Only the ones who need it," was the answer I received from our volunteer coordinator.
Prior to yesterday, the most uncomfortable act of service I've ever been asked to perform was the washing of the already-pretty-clean feet of a close friend. Now a volunteer coordinator at a Mother Theresa home in Calcutta is pointing at some ashy old dude with one toe, who's looking up expectantly at us.
I look to the sound, and Justin is holding the bottle out to me, his own hand already full of pink moisturizer.
Now mine is too.
No turning back now.
Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for a friend.
The Message puts John 15:12-13 this way, "Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends."
This, so far, is my favorite picture from Becca’s wedding last Saturday, really, for a couple of reasons.
One, it’s just typical of how our family rolls. We don’t just bustle a wedding gown, that would be too easy, and boring. Nope, we turn it into a, for lack of a better word, fiasco.
The dress had multiple layers that had to be bustled before Becca entered the reception. Knowing this, my daughter in law, Sarah Kathryn, and I practiced our bustling several times. We had it down pat. We were ready, or so we thought.
Well, when time came to bustle, we could not for the life of us find all the buttons and loops that we needed to find. It was hot, we were sweating, and gnats were flying up our noses. We had layers of wedding gown over our heads, which of course made things even hotter. Then to make things even more frustrating, we had irritating husbands trying to rush us. It was about to get ugly, fast.
Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Psalm 127:1
When we began building our house, God made one thing very clear to me, it would be His house. He would graciously allow us to live in it; however, He would be the one to make the call as to how it would be used. I can still remember being so sure of His calling that one morning I spread the blueprints out on the breakfast room table and asked Him, “Lord, is this it? Is this how You want it to look?”
I really hate to admit this, but there have been more than a few times over the years that I have lost sight of whose house it is. See, I pretty much knew from the get go that my door was to be opened to anyone He chose to send my way. I guess there were just a few things I didn’t realize.
But mostly, I didn’t realize how unimportant walls, and floors, and chairs, and tea, and sleep really are.
It’s funny how God has so completely changed my heart. I always wanted that perfectly decorated house worthy of a Southern Living cameo. I liked an organized, clean, and orderly home…all that is gone. All the things that I once thought would bring me joy; all those things that I once took pride in just don’t matter anymore. Now I find that nothing thrills my heart more than seeing those precious faces of all ages coming around the corner into the kitchen or watching someone snuggle down into a well-worn chair and relax. I do sometimes find myself thinking that I would be even more joyful watching someone snuggle into a chair that didn’t have the cushion coming out of the fabric.
Back then, I just didn’t realize that surrendering all I once held dear and embracing my Father’s calling on my life could bring such joy. I do now.
Well, they weren’t actually in the house; they were in Turner Field, the Braves Stadium. Anyone who knows our family knows my husband and daughter are HUGE Braves' fans. So, at least once a year we give our TV a rest and make the trek to Atlanta for a game.
My husband is not only a Braves fan but he is a “thrifty” Braves fan, and we have perfected the art of watching Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrell through binoculars. Once we even enjoyed cheering on Chipper Jones through a telescope. No easy task for three people! However, on this momentous occasion three weeks ago, my husband scored 3 AWESOME tickets 23 rows up, right behind home plate! We knew that Turner Field had beautifully manicured grass from the 162 games we have seen on TV, but to actually almost touch it from our seats …priceless.
A wise friend once told me that the biggest adjustment a mom has to make in child rearing comes when she has more kids than she has hands. After that, it’s all over.
“Throw sanity out the window,” she told me.
She was right.
Two little ones were doable. It wasn’t always easy, but it was doable. Then came number three. “Have mercy, Lord,” was prayed under breath a lot in those days.
My wise friend also told me, “Once who have more than two, you might as well keep going because four is no harder than three.”
What kind of idiotic theory is that? But, much to my surprise, number four came, and I found that she was correct. In fact, it might even be easier because by that point, you are more seasoned and much wiser. Yeah, and truthfully, by that point you’re tired and just don’t really care anymore. You come to realize that God knows you are completely worn out and He assigns an angel to protect your children because goodness knows you aren’t capable anymore.
“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”
-1 Corinthians 12:18
On Friday night, my husband had an insurance co-worker and friend call to warn him of a severe thunderstorm heading toward our neighborhood in Sumter. We didn’t want to think about a storm though because we were enjoying our Memorial Day weekend out of town. We had plans to get together with Greg’s men’s group the next day and we were focused on getting hamburger patties made and putting gas in the boat for our fun day at the lake. And fun it was! We even had boiled peanuts! I mean really, how much better could it be than that! The previous night’s storm wasn’t going to dampen our day!
On Sunday after our lake day we headed back to Sumter to drop the dogs off at home before church. You guessed it; the sight wasn’t pretty. Twenty-seven years ago I planted a Bradford pear tree in honor of my son’s birth. Half of that special tree now lay sprawled across our driveway. Green leaves were everywhere like a crop duster had opened up and dropped them with the intention of blanketing the house and yard. The patio table lay on its side not too far from the sad looking dismembered tomato plants I had babied. To top it off, our neighbor humorously shouted out from his window, “Merry Christmas, Greg!” as we stood in the yard in disbelief. Gee, thanks! Well, I guess we will be taking our friend’s “heads up” a little more seriously next time!
Most all of us at one time or another have been in a position to have influence over a child whether in a positive way or a negative way. That’s a precious gift God gives us – to affect a child’s life. Recently, I had the extreme pleasure to share a week in El Riito, Honduras with a group of exceptionally special people. The group consisted of members from Sebring Baptist Church in Sebring, Florida; Central Baptist in North Little Rock, Arkansas; and Alice Drive Baptist in Sumter, SC. We were 34 people strong with plans to meet up with some others upon arrival to Honduras for the purpose of a medical mission trip.
If you have ever been blessed enough to have experienced an international mission trip you know the group may have prepared and planned for months, if not years, but only our Heavenly Father holds the reins. “Subject to change” is always the theme for the week and this week was no exception.
Our dentist, Dr. Gee Rabon, had made huge sacrifices over the last couple of years to serve the people of Honduras. One of the sacrifices was the purchase of a compact piece of equipment to do fillings with while there. The whole team was so excited about this technology that the people of El Riito would benefit from. Never before had they had the opportunity to have teeth filled, their only option - to be pulled if they were decayed. How great it was going to be not to have that as the only option. It turns out that the equipment was spotted by a group of locals at the airport who were not interested in our mission of helping the Honduran people. They decided the equipment was to be used in a different way. So the suitcase with Dr. Rabon’s equipment and his wife’s bag were both cut off the back of a truck while stopped at a traffic light. Did Satan get a foothold? No chance! Yes, Gee and Lori’s week had not started off as they or the team would’ve liked but it did not put a roadblock up just a brief detour.
My daughter just finished her first semester of college, and yes, we have all survived! Praise God! Survival has come through many hours of prayer, reading Scripture, and lots of free therapy from friends and family. By the way, thank you all for not charging! I can now look back on that first day of college with a little perspective, not through the fear and tears I had at the beginning. I remember getting ready to leave for school on that fateful morning and my daughter asked me how she looked. I was prepared to tell her that her hair looked great, her clothes matched (not always a given in our household), and that she looked very “college-worthy”. My sweet daughter had another adjective in mind; she wanted to know if she looked approachable?
“Approachable?” I asked.
“Yes, I’m wearing my Young Life shirt and do you think people will know about YL and want to approach me?”
I know this is something that we have all shared about before but I have really been pondering this lately. Dickie Jones, our Sunday school teacher, has taught a few lessons on this topic for the last couple of weeks and it got me to thinking. I do think we should share our stories with each other, sometimes our failures are much easier to share because who wants to sound “braggy” with our successes? As a body of believers, we should be there to build up each other in failures and also celebrate our victories. How will we know what’s going on if we don’t “post it”, “pin it”, or “pass it on”? It’s all about making connections just as Jesus did when He shared His stories and parables. So, if we are to be like Jesus… it’s all about our relationships and making connections with other people. The Lord has blessed each of us with a story to tell; He gives us all different experiences to share. Then when we go out, like the disciples, we try to make our connections. We glean something from each story that is shared and then we pass that on to someone else. All of this to build our Christ community and to be His hands, feet, and voice to everyone we meet.
Last week, Billy Graham had a new message, “The Cross”, on TV. During the advertisements of the program, we, as believers, were encouraged to invite our neighbors and non-believers to watch this together. I thought that was a really great idea for “everyone else”. I was actually thinking this as I was walking my dog Ellie in our neighborhood. I thought, “Lord I really hope ‘other people’ will do that. It would be awesome!” I was actually quite proud of myself for remembering to pray for that ministry.
As Ellie and I were walking, I told the Lord that I would pray for my neighbors even though they wouldn’t be coming to my house - you know it would be weird inviting people I didn’t know very well. I also reminded the Lord that I had never really talked to a particular neighbor; in fact, I didn’t even remember her name. But as a person of Godly character I would pray for her too.
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