Seven hours of bargain shopping today with my eldest has left my feet sore and my heart encouraged. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I love spending time with my kids. Today was spent getting ready for camp, and giving her a bit of pampering as payment for babysitting her sisters for the past few weeks since school has been out. She hasn’t complained, and overall has had an amazingly positive attitude about pitching in to help out. She has a tender heart that is concerned for others, she’s smart, she’s beautiful and her relationship with God is transforming her more everyday.
I love having the time to have uninterrupted conversations with her. Today, she shared with me her desire to move into a smaller home out in the country where life has a slower pace, and where the value of having a good life is reflected in your faith, family and friends instead of what label is on your clothing. (I’m summing up a 3 hour conversation in that one sentence.) I’m proud of her and the woman she is growing into. She isn’t perfect and readily admits it. She often withdraws from those around her in an attempt to spare their feelings when she’s out of sorts. She’s a younger, more improved version of me. I pray that God will continue to equip Scott and I to guide her as she matures into adulthood.
Spending that time with her helped me to refocus on what is important. A few days ago I was experiencing a complete come-apart. Unfortunately that is a part of life that is similar to the steam being released on a pressure cooker. If it’s not released slowly in a controlled manner it will explode, and I was a ticking time bomb. The time Meg and I spent together today gave me reassurance that Scott and I are not failing as parents. Our kids know God, they know they can always come to us for anything, and they are more concerned with others feelings than their own. We don’t get to take all the credit, but we will take some of it. 😉
“Train your children in the ways of the Lord, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
While Meg and I were out, I met a young woman named Maika from Vietnam. I had mentioned to her that she had beautiful eyes, and she told me that she had never heard that any part of her was beautiful. She came to America 6 years ago to work. She has no family, and although she didn’t expand on that, I could tell there was a tremendous amount of pain associated with that part of her story. She has no friends, and all she does is work. I prayed for her a lot during the time we were together. I don’t really know how to explain the sadness I felt for her … not pity … sadness. She was giving me a $12 manicure that I felt guilty about getting, and as I sat there hearing a small part of her story, and looking as her eyes that were lonely, I felt uncomfortable being on that side of the table. The urge I had was to swap places with her, and serve her. Granted, I probably would have hurt her horribly since I have absolutely no idea how to give one to myself let alone another person! But it didn’t seem right for me to take from her. Yes, I know I was paying for the service, and that it was her job, but I didn’t see her as the lady who was doing my nails. I saw her as a person who was obviously hurting, and my status of being the customer became irrelevant. I wanted to serve her. I don’t normally get my nails done, but I’m going to make sure I set aside enough to go in at least once a month so that I can get to know her better. Everyone should know that they are appreciated, viewed as beautiful and most importantly loved. I’m pretty sure Maika doesn’t know how deeply God loves her, and since she is in my circle of influence, I am commanded; and I choose; to make a point of sharing with her.
“Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-20
Everyone around us has a story of their own struggles. Everyone around us has a desire to be important to someone. One of the most dangerous places we can be in life is alone. As part of the body of Christ (I consider myself an eyelash), we have a calling to notice what is going on around us. Too often we … I … rush through our lives not stopping for even a moment to recognize that someone else is having a bad day, or that they have never been told they are beautiful. If we can’t even do that, how are we going to effectively impact this fallen world? How can we profess to love God but not pay attention to what’s happening to His children right in front of us? We have to retreat to the mountain to be refreshed by God, but we shouldn’t stay there afraid to come down and be exposed to what is “unclean”. Too often we know this in our heads, but our actions in daily life doesn’t reflect that truth. Look at the person you are paying for gas, and smile at them. When you have the slow checkout lane, don’t allow yourself to become irritable with the cashier. Ask your server if you can pray for them. Open the door for the person behind you. Be different … be a light to those around you.
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-16
The reflection of our time spent with God is also show in how quickly we confess our short comings, our mistakes and our sins. If we hold onto what needs to be confessed, it serves as a barrier between us and God. In the midst of that barrier, the enemy lives. Lies, deceit and confusion will grow within the mind the longer we hold onto whatever should be confessed. And if what we are holding onto is a negative thought or action, it needs to be confessed, We also need prayer from those around us to help lift us.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16
A few days ago so much of what I thought and felt was negative. I hadn’t sinned, but I was not full of thoughts that were uplifting. I was smack-dab in the middle of self-pity and I needed to confess. As a result of my confession in the post Just Jump, the barrier was removed and I am no longer focused on poor pitiful me. Thank you for the prayers I know I received from so many. I was able to see life through my daughter’s eyes. I was aware of the hurt in Maika’s eyes. I was able to gain the perspective that I am beyond blessed by being able to see others for more than what they do or what they have done in the past.
Lord, I pray that you will continue to reveal truth to me. I pray for Maika, and that You would surround her with believers who will show her the love of Christ. I pray that you will compel me to act on your behalf, to not sit by as a fan in the bleachers, but as an active participant in the game. In the moments where my attitude, actions or thought do not reflect your love, I pray that you would correct me in the moment and guard anyone around me from my shortcomings. I pray that my actions would draw others closer to you, and I would prefer to be removed from this world than to misrepresent the love of Christ. It is in the name of Christ Jesus that I pray. Amen.