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Are You the Blade that Shapes OR Shatters?

double-edged-sword2Recently, I was made privy to a comment about me that wasn’t so nice.  The blade of hurt was sharpened with the knowledge the words were spoken by someone I care about. Certainly, I am guilty of many things, but laziness is not one of them and for someone to believe it to be true (and then to share with others) were piercing, knife-like words.

I profess to be OCD, an over-achiever, addict of many things (both good and bad) and tend to offer an extreme amount of time to service projects that have eternal purpose. I don’t apologize because there is no doubt in my mind that the challenges I face on my current path are being forged by God to fulfill His ultimate plan for my life.

This year, my holiday season has been consecrated to a desire to help others in need. There are times I’ve opted to give paid jobs to others so I could give my attention to other purposeful and unpaid projects. In the spirit of giving, there are times I’ve taken a moment to breathe because I needed time to energize, regroup and rest.

You may be asking what the purpose of this post is.

It’s a message about the words we speak and share with others. You may believe you know a person; but do you really? Do you know the inflicted struggles, motive or battle God has placed before them to perfect His eternal purpose within them?

We need to recognize we are not the judge and jury of the intentions and endeavors of others, even though we deem ourselves best suited for this God ordained position. Only God has the ability to see the heart of mankind and He does it with divine knowledge of our thoughts and His purposed intentions. He hears our heartfelt cries as we desire and long to be obedient to His call even we seem to fail Him and others.

I encourage you to be the spiritual blade of God that shapes and uplifts fellow friends and loved ones. It’s done through the power of prayer, not the power of a sharp tongue. God is forever working within to do his good work to shape and sculpt us according to His perfect plan.

There are many personal battles that rage within us: addiction issues, seasons of loneliness, grief from loss or spiritual emptiness.  The ways God chooses to shape someones life into His image to fulfill His purpose isn’t for us to question, judge or debate.

God shares this with us:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

We are all instruments God uses to guide and support each other in this journey we call life. God never intended for us to sharpen and wield our ‘I know what’s best for you’ blade into the life of others.

Don’t be the blade that shatters the spirit of others because you have a tongue that can’t be tamed. Refrain from spewing forth words that pierce and divide the soul of another. Instead, strive to be the blade that shapes the life of others with words of kindness and love.

“Let the words of my mouth…be acceptable in your sight, O Lord.” Psalms 19:4

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The TRUE Meaning of Pay It Forward

Picture1She reached out to embrace me with a heartfelt hug. As the softness of her cheek brushed against mine, I leaned in and gently kissed it. As I did, the elderly woman whispered in my ear, “I can’t thank you enough, this means so much to me. I’ve really needed help and didn’t know who to call or ask.”

I turned to watch my teenage grandson as he worked to clean, sort and organize Sarah’s kitchen pantry. Sarah has Parkinson’s and her hands tremble and shake uncontrolably. Some days are better than others, but this once vibrant member of our community now has limited use of her hands.

Sarah rarely complains about her condition. Things as simple as changing light bulbs, vacuuming the inside of her car and trimming back flower beds are no longer things she can do without help.  She had asked if I knew of a teen in our community that could help with chores. Sarah was willing to pay, but with limited funds, she couldn’t afford to hire a professional service.

I own a cleaning company and take care of Sarah’s house cleaning needs, but there are things not included as part of my business services so I asked my grandson if he wanted the opportunity to work.  It’s is a win-win situation. My grandson needs the cash and Sarah needs a trustworthy, affordable worker.

Pay It Forward endeavors and missions aren’t always glamorous and sometimes require more effort on our part than donating a bag of clothes or buying a cup of coffee for the person ahead of us in line. There are times when it means we must get our hands dirty or donate time we really don’t have. In the case of my grandson, it was cleaning up mouse droppings, crusted bird feeders and disposing of expired food product in a pantry.

It could be delivering a home cooked meal to someone who is home-bound, offering carpool services to a parent that can’t get kids to an event because of their work schedule or providing  your professional services or labor without charge.

In whatever way you choose to Pay It Forward let it be done  out of love, compassion and with a servant’s heart. Let it be done without a contrived effort to validate your own self-worth or to showcase your personal acts of goodness to others.

Benjamin Franklin loaned a man in need some money one time and he said,

“I do not pretend to give such a deed. I only lend it to you. When you meet with another honest man in similar distress as you, you must pay me by lending this sum to him.”

Although my grandson is getting paid to work, there may come a day when he is unable to do things for himself.  Should that happen, I hope he pays it forward and hires a vibrant, robust teen like himself who needs to earn spending money.

Passing on good deeds may seem like a novel, modern idea, but it is as old as the work God is doing with humanity. He has given us life and everything else we need to achieve our potential—eternal life in the family of God. Let’s take the good things God has done for us and do our part to embrace the TRUE meaning of pay it forward by being representatives of His never ending grace.

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The Catty Shack Club

cattyAre you a member? You might be and don’t even know it.

I’m not talking golf (caddy) here; I’m talking about running your mouth and being catty behind the scenes while on the surface you give all appearances of being the faithful friend, family member or co-worker. Yes, I’m talking about you, me and a host of others who are active members of this club.

The conversation:

“Isn’t he/she just so wonderful? They do so much for others through community & church donations, volunteering their time, energy and efforts – BUT…

It’s the BUT, DID YOU KNOW and DON’T TELL ANYONE that negates any positive comments previously shared. The moment you utter the words, you (and me) have enrolled in a ‘catty’ shack club membership.  We have deliberately made ourselves judge and jury as we indulged in comments that are hurtful and spiteful.

The why:

What compels us to share negative comments about those we love and care about? Good question.

Honestly, I believe it has more to do with acknowledging the success of someone we love and admire. It makes us more aware of our own weaknesses, limitations and failures to find gratification in life. God desires us to uplift, encourage and inspire others just as He does for us.

The outcome:

I can say with complete confidence that God doesn’t share any BUT, DID YOU KNOW and DON’T TELL ANYONE secrets about us with others. We should follow that same example.

To share tidbits and betray the confidence of others speaks volumes about us and the condition of our spiritual heart. Are we harboring envy or greed that needs to be reconciled? Maybe it’s jealousy or our own feelings of inadequacies.

Whatever, the reasons, we are not judge or jury to the decisions others make, the lifestyle they choose or the intents of their heart. That is God’s job. There will always be open enrollment to membership in the Catty Shack Club.

When the enemy of this world solicits you to engage in membership, remind yourself that it serves no purpose.  Our God-ordained purpose is to love at all costs.

“…but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

I think we have all heard: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say it.” It’s applicable. If you want to share, then share with God in prayer.  Unlike us, He sees the whole picture, not just the conversation.

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Love Wins Every Time

love wins
Sorry! I just don’t see how posting your political venue on Facebook along with sarcastic comments, quotes and venom is going to change the heart and mind of those who oppose your views.

Yes, you are entitled to your viewpoint on all things political, but do you have to present your case on Facebook?

If you really want to make a difference, do something that requires more than copying and pasting political propaganda and opinions you find on the internet. It’s the lazy person’s way of broadcasting politics and requires little effort.

We are a nation that has to co-exist together regardless of our political views. To verbally or physically assault others who oppose our views achieves nothing. History pretty much confirms this truth.

In a perfect world, it would be nice to believe that after the November 6 elections, all political disparity would subside. Sadly, you and I both know that won’t happen. There will be a new barrage of online verbal attacks; some on a very personal level that will sever family and friendships.

My life is surrounded by friends and family members with differing political and religious views that are contrary to mine. That’s OK. What’s not OK is for me to take an offensive enemy position in an effort to persuade them to my point of view.

For the record, there is this thing called prayer. God is the judge and jury of all mankind (at least in my religious views). Even if your views should differ, the bottom line is this:

We were created for a purpose. Hopefully, you view your purpose as someone who embraces humanity with love, understanding and compassion.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13

I encourage you to practice love. It wins every time.

There is clarity when we set aside our differences. The blinders of hate, political discord and allegiances to groups that seek to divide us are lifted. Love allows us to see people who may have opposing views as a group of individuals that truly want to find a way to bring unity without twitter feeds, media hypes and Facebook / Internet propaganda.

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Heavenly Father, unite our nation. Unite our people. Let us look toward the greater cause and purpose of why we exist… faith, hope and love.

Amen.

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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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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?