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The Inspiration Behind the Dream

kindness winsAs the founder of the Linden Pay It Forward Project, this post is written from my heart.

Many years ago I became a part of the Linden community by marriage. Some of you know the person I married, others may not; that is not important. What IS important is, after the marriage ended, I felt abandoned in a community I did not know.

I had to find my way and it wasn’t easy. But God’s grace is sufficient in our time of need and that grace was more than I ever hoped for.

ROLL BACKWARDS

For whatever reason, I believed my self-worth was based on my martial partner. Hmm…. any of you been down that path of misconception? Now, at age 63, I can’t even imagine that I gifted that former spouse a digit on my scale of worth. But it happened.

ROLL FORWARD

My point of sharing is to enlighten you that WE create our future; WE reshape the circumstances that we thought would define our destiny.

I started to step outside my comfort zone. I joined a gym where I met some forever friends. I became active in my community through a Bunco group with friendships still shared to this day.

My daughter’s participation in sports throughout high school brought new friendships with parents in the community. When I started a home-based global business, I hired students from Linden High to help out. To this day, these gals are like daughters to me.

Bottom line, I choose to reshape my destiny. I went back to college, finished my degree and in the process recognized that I was worthy. I finally got it.

GOT WHAT?

I finally got that my faith, the love of family, friends and community is what really matters.  Some of you know my deepest struggles, some don’t. Again, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the knowledge that whatever life throws at us, God’s grace and community friendships will see us through the pot holes of life.

FAST FORWARD

The community that once felt foreign to me is now my safety net, my fortress and my forever hometown.

PAY IT FORWARD

My reason for starting the Linden Pay It Forward Project had a dual purpose. It was inspired by an act of kindness by two high school boys within our community. On a more intimate level, it was a desire to make people feel like they belong. Perhaps, their life story differs from mine, but in the end, it’s all about a need to be accepted, appreciated and loved.

We all have stories of loss, personal heartache and remorse. I can think of no better way to recover, regroup and regain whatever it is we have lost than to reach out to others in their time of need.

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Held to the Flame

flame

There are times in life when we are held to the flames. Perhaps it is divorce, separation or a battle for your health. Addictions, loss of a family member or job can quickly place our faith next to the flame.

I get it, and have experienced all of these ‘held to the fire’ moments within my life. Was it easy, NO! Was God faithful, YES! It is God’s holy fire that transforms us. When held to the flame, our spirit is transformed into something new.

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. (7) These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1: 6-7

We are valuable to God. Giving up His Son to death so that His blood would bring us forgiveness of sin is certainly proof of that. If your life is being held to the flame, God may be trying to tell you something.

Open your ears to hear God’s voice; He speaks to us through His Word. Read it!

Open your eyes to your surroundings. Are you hanging out in places and with people that give cause for concern?

Open your heart to change and the deep inner stirring of the Holy Spirit within your soul. That comes through prayer and meditation with our Heavenly Father.

Sometimes our life is held to the flame for no apparent reason. REJOICE! God is testing your faith for a divine purpose. You may not see or know that purpose while on earth, but eternity holds all the answers.

Dig in your heels, hold tight! Let your faith be increased and proven to be genuine because it has been held to the flame.

“So now, beloved ones stand firm and secure. Live your lives with an unshakable confidence. We know that we prosper and excel in every season by serving the Lord, because are we assured that our union with the Lord makes our labor productive with fruit that endures.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

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Finding Your Purpose

IMG_2855YIKES! Finding purpose is not so easy. I am 63 years young and still trying to learn what exactly it is I’m supposed to be doing. One week I believe it should be writing this blog, the next week I switch gears and believe it’s donating my time to a worthy cause, and then, I end the week with a big hallelujah that will help prosper community spirit.

I am all over the board and then some. It’s how I operate and the chances of that changing are unlikely. My heart is forever drawn in so many different directions with great intentions, but focusing on one particular purpose seems impossible.

Is that you?

If you have more than three servings on your life platter, there is a good chance I’m talking to you. Maybe you are a sport’s mom or dad who works full time. At this time in life, your purpose might be to feed the kids dinner, get them to practice or games, help with homework and get them in bed at a reasonable time.

Perhaps, you’re a student. Your purpose is to finish college, find a career that yields a worthy income, get married, have kids and eventually buy a house. Or, you could be a senior who has lost your purpose after retirement. The kids are gone, the house is paid off, grandkids no longer visit and health issues keep you from doing many of the things you once loved.

You are not alone

Life is transitional which means we are continually making adjustments to find our purpose on earth. When single, our purpose is to eventually find a spouse; once married with kids, there is a new purpose. The cost of college education for our kids ushers in a purpose of finding affordable tuition that doesn’t rob our retirement.

The pursuit of purpose is never ending and always changing when viewed from an earthly point of view. It can be exhausting, especially if we compare our life to those around us.

Eternal Purpose

We need to count it a blessing that our eternal purpose is salvation through Christ Jesus; it never changes. It is the mingling of God with humanity, through us, that cultivates our ultimate purpose. When we grasp hold of that eternal purpose, it is life-changing.

God uses every circumstance in our life to make us more like Jesus. Every success, failure, joy, and disappointment is designed to bring eternal purpose to our life and make us more like Jesus.

“Those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29)

As you forge a path of purpose in life, don’t fail to see the eternal picture. In our lifetime, we will pursue many ambitions, reach for goals and aspire to find new venues of purpose. However, it is the eternal purpose that matters most.

“But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things [purpose] will be given to you also.”
Matthew 6:33

 

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Pay It Forward Linden

payitforward_linden4I am excited about the Pay It Forward Linden project and the new web site (not yet functional) named: PayItForwardLinden.com

The background noise in my head was screaming that our Linden community should be the corner stone of a Pay It Forward network across the US. It’s a radical idea, but communities, cities and our nation are in need of radical thinkers. I hope you are willing to work with me to conceptualize this trickle-down idea and find ways to make it a reality.

 What does trickle-down mean?

Students in our community will eventually attend colleges and universities in various cities and states. The goal is for students to embrace, share and apply the Pay It Forward Project principles wherever life takes them.

Be an inspiration

Why bother? I answer that question with a recent Facebook post by a Linden resident who witnessed this Pay It Forward act of kindness within our community.

Let me follow that by another act of kindness my grandson, Fischer, observed in the Alpine Shopping Plaza this summer. It made such an impression on him that He continues to speak about it to this day.

An elderly woman with a cane was trying to cross the parking lot to her car. A young man got out of his vehicle and asked the woman if she needed help to her car. My grandson’s comment, “He must be someone in our community who know Jesus, because that’s what Jesus would do.”

What’s the plan?

It’s to make a difference in our community no matter how great or small the effort; to keep us aware of the many acts of kindness we can do within our tribe of Linden residents. My blog, Devotionals for the Imperfect Person, outlines a Pay It Forward Christmas agenda I will be doing with my grandkids.

This isn’t a mission to save the world, but rather a purposed outreach to unite our community to respond to any and all in our tribe that may have a need. Back in the day, I knew just about everyone in our community. Our simple farm community has grown in more ways than I care to consider and continues to grow. To maintain the same home-time lifestyle we have always enjoyed, we need to become proactive about the direction our community is headed.

The former farm fields have become new sub-divisions. New homes, new residents bring new visions; some good, some not. The purpose of the Pay It Forward Linden project is to unite the vision for our community in extraordinary ways.

How can that happen?

The Pay It Forward project has nothing to do with our personal religious and political viewpoints. It’s about genuine love and concern for those living in our community. It’s a commitment to make acts of kindness, encouraging words, and random pay-it-forward moments part of our daily lifestyle.

It’s a combined effort to impart a profound impact within our community that makes a noticeable and lasting imprint both inside and outside our tribal boundaries.

I don’t have time to get involved!

Really!! You don’t have time to give back and get involved in the community you have chosen to live, grow a family, attend church, and enjoy Linden tribal activities, sporting events and parks. Not to mention a community in which you have invested TAX DOLLARS!

OK, I get it, but what now?

The first step is to let our community tribe know about the Pay It Forward Linden project. There are several holiday events in Linden within the next couple of months. These happenings are a perfect time to introduce and share the Pay It Forward Linden project.

STEP ONE: Purchase a 12 x 18 Pay It Forward Linden yard sign for your home or business to bring awareness to the project. The cost is $15 which includes a wire stand.

Leave a text or voice message on my cell 810-399-4842 by October 26 to order a yard sign. I will personally deliver to you by November 17 and pick up cash payment on delivery.

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Walking Mission Field

the-other-mission-field
I’ve been called many things, but never a walking mission field; it was a first.

I recently connected with a prior acquaintance to assist me with my Monday house cleaning jobs. The drive time between each house clean has given us ample opportunity to grow from acquaintance status into a heartfelt friendship. Her name is Janine.

Travel Talks

During our travel time we talk about our families, favorite pastimes and share memories about our childhood years. But it is our shared faith that really seals the bond between us. She is a believer in Christ and her commitment to a life long journey of discovering what that means brings added value to our relationship because I am on that same journey.

A few weeks ago I casually mentioned that I have a blog called Devotionals for the Imperfect Person. Those who know me well know that writing is my passion. Not just writing about my faith to bring inspiration, but writing stories of encouragement and hope when weathering storms of life.

Caught Off Guard

On other drives Janine and I have talked about my Warrior Chair project; chairs painted and gifted to others that are battling cancer. There have been conversations about cultivating a daily pay it forward attitude, being attentive to the needs of others and my life as a pastor’s daughter.

It was our last stop on the way home from a clean this week that prompted Janine’s comment, “You are just a walking mission field.” It truly caught me off guard and I was uncertain what had prompted the remark.

I had made a quick stop at the corner market near my home after our last clean. I explained to Janine that the girl who worked there was a single mom with two kids. Her work days were 15 hours with a 40 minute drive to work. I went on to share I had dropped off a token gift bag to her last week.

There was nothing of particular value in the bag, but it contained some goodies along with a note of thanks for the great service she gives every time I visit the store. Unknown to me, the store clerk was having a particularly difficult day and the gift bag was a reminder she is valued.

The Mission

I shared this story with Janine. Not to receive any accolades, but to share the joyful impact a simple goodie bag had imparted to this unknown store clerk and how she was filled with gratitude. The door was now open to share the greatest gift of all: God’s love for a store clerk I barely knew.

We can all choose to be walking (or driving) mission fields. The rewards of our efforts may not be evident through the eyes of man, but God’s all-seeing eyes take note and He blesses the effort in unthinkable ways.

What mission field are you headed to today?

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2018: A Pay It Forward Christmas

1ab1d1e0550be0eb56556f6449aba62bAs the Christmas holiday season approaches, I am contemplating ways to make it a minimalist holiday season. Those on my buying list have no genuine needs. They might have wants, but that’s not the same as needs.

My grandkids are in their teens or soon to be. They lack nothing and have  a closet filled with clothes, comforts of a good home, food on the table and electronic devices up the wazoo. What they believe to be lacking in their life are expensive items like owning their own vehicle free and clear (you know, that new Jeep parked at the local dealership), prepaid car insurance until they finish college & university degrees (paid for, of course, by someone other than themselves).

It’s the wave of the current generation; the one we helped to create by giving them (our kids and grandkids) everything they desire with little regard to words like: earn, work, deserve, merit or most importantly, saying no.

This year, I have determined that the gifts on my shopping list will be genuinely gifted from the heart.

What does that mean?

I like to think of it as ‘pay it forward’ gifts. It’s not about what you receive, but what you gift to someone else. It could be buying a cup of hot cocoa for the volunteer person who rings the bell for Salvation Army donations. Maybe it’s baking cookies or a Bundt cake for local firefighters or police officers, or dropping quarters in the a laundromat washing machine to pay for someone’s next load.

The agenda

I have posted my agenda, should you want to consider a minimalist Christmas this year. Yes, I am starting early, but the initial planning takes some pre-planning because the thought process involves thinking of others before us.

My grandkids won’t receive any Christmas gifts from Neenee & Poppy unless they fulfill the (15) required ‘Pay It Forward’ items on the list below. Some items can be done jointly; others must be done solo. The agenda will start November 24 and must be completed by December 22.

  1. Deliver indoor plant to someone in a nursing home (jointly)
  2. Buy a cup of hot cocoa for the Salvation Army person ringing the bell (solo)
  3. Bake something for firefighters or police officers (jointly)
  4. Put a quarter in a gumball machine and walk away (solo)
  5. Put enough quarters in a laundromat washing machine for someone to do a load (solo)
  6. Print up some inspiring signs and post around town (jointly)
  7. Leave a card on someone’s door step that tells them you prayed for them today (anonymously). Pray over the card before leaving on doorstep. (solo)
  8. Post a sheet of random ‘Pay It Forward’ tear-off compliment’s at neighboring stores/businesses
  9. Drop off a meal to a widow. (jointly)
  10. Leave a box of goodies in your mailbox for your mail carrier. (jointly)
  11. Spend some time with the elderly. There are many people in retirement homes that have no one who visits them. Ask the local facility staff if there’s someone whose day you could brighten. (either jointly or solo)
  12. Send a handwritten card to someone you know, unexpectedly. (solo)
  13. Put post-it notes with positive sayings on random lockers at school. (solo)
  14. Write a 200 word letter to your parents about why you love them. (solo)
  15. Donate a much loved toy or item of clothing to someone in need within the community. (solo)

I look forward to sharing photos and comments of our Pay It Forward Christmas season.

 

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Never Under Estimate God’s Purpose

quoteCleaning homes is not something I ever expected to be doing in my sixties. Heck, I had already retired from one job and sold a prosperous LLC company by age sixty.

It’s not that I consider myself above house cleaning; it’s just that the thought never crossed my mind. Apparently it crossed the mind of God and I was assigned to be a house cleaning missionary.

It’s true. Not only that, but God also hand-selected someone I had never before met to work with me in the mission field. Pretty crazy, isn’t it? At my age, nothing surprises me about God and the ways He will use us for His purpose IF we are willing.

THE STORY

A single mom, married multiple times, who didn’t finish college until later in life. A woman broken by life’s struggles; a woman, by the grace of God, who found a secure job with decent wages and benefits to support herself and daughter.

I am guessing many of you have a similar story to share that is filled with shame, regrets and 20/20 vision. It’s that history that gets us to the God-designated place we are today. It takes unplanned events, heartaches and, in some cases, losses to get us to where God wants us to be.

THE WHY

In hindsight, the why is very clear but since glimpses of our future are not made known to us, we impatiently choose to move forward without a God-ordained plan. That is me, even to this day. I want to see the road ahead but when it’s not visible, I forge a path in the opposite direction of what God has planned for my life. It’s what I do and I do it very well.

THE HOPE

Be still my heart for there is still hope for us wayward souls who tend to take the path less taken. The path filled with thorns, burs and barbed wire. The path that ultimately leaves us scarred, wounded and crying for help.

And, then there is Jesus. His mercy and grace beckons us in another direction. A path we never considered, but a path that leads us to still waters; where he can restore us anew.

THE REASON

The life paths and direction God has designed for each of us is as different as our DNA. Our divine purpose on earth is unique because it is eternal based. We can’t see the big picture; we only see what is here and now.

I often ask God the reason I’ve been chosen to be a house cleaning missionary at this time in my life; an age where I can barely step in and out of a bathroom spa tub and scrubbing floors can require knee pads. His answer comes in ways I never imagined.

  • The woman crying in her car across the street from one of our house cleans who willingly accepted our offer to pray with her because her mother was dying.
  • The widow who looks forward to our visits because we make her laugh.
  • The busy doctor and PA with small children who continually show gratitude and thanks for the service we provide.
  • The grandmother who acquired custody of her grandkids because of family addiction issues and needs a sounding board.
  • The single father who needs help with housekeeping.
  • The single mom at the corner store who needs encouragement; so, we left her a goody bag.
  • The guy who noted the name ‘My Magic Mop’ on our vehicle and his laughter when I replied, “I ride the Magic Mop to work.”
  • The retired military man, a widow, who needs help with cleaning.

THE MISSION

To remain sensitive to the needs of others and continue to joyfully serve in the mission field God has placed me in at this time in my life. There are days I come home sore and tired. Other days, I come home exhilarated by the small victories, the challenges I’ve overcome and the new friendships acquired.

Never under estimate where God places you at certain times of your life.