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Ball Cap Ready

ball cap readyI clean houses for a living and when you clean houses; you need to be ‘ball cap ready’ at all times. Any effort to shower, put on make-up, style hair and look like you just walked out of a salon is pointless.

By the end of the day, you will have bleach stains on your work cloths, smell like anti-bacterial wipes and multi-purpose cleaner, sock bottoms that are disgustingly black and wish you had chosen a different career path. A career where you wake up and shower, not showering in showers you clean (trust me; it does happens when you fail to push or turn the wrong knob when cleaning the shower head).

You may not clean houses for a living, but each of us will find times in our life when we need to be ‘ball cap ready’. That call from a friend in need, the bestie who wants to meet for lunch in an hour because they facing a crisis moment, the family member that unexpectedly needs a ride to an appointment or a community member in need of an extra helping hand when everyone else bailed on them.

‘Ball Cap Ready’ means you are prepared for every situation that life throws at you with no regard for your physical appearance, attire, the sentiment or opinion of others. You just put on the ball cap and do what you are called to do. Serve.

The name of my company is on my ball cap, but there are moments throughout each day that the cap changes names. It’s unperceived by others, sometimes even to myself. Sometimes the ball cap reads friend, at other times it may change to grace, shoulder to cry on, just listen or Jesus cares.

It doesn’t matter what lettering is on the front of our ball caps because at any given time it could change. You might say, “I don’t wear ball caps!” I beg to differ. It may be vicariously, but the ball cap we wear on a daily basis says something.

It might say teacher, mom, electrician, builder or any host of names that define who and what you do for work. But that same ball cap also says something about who you are as a person and your response readiness to switch caps in a minutes notice to be the person that Jesus has called you to be in any given situation.

  • Are you ball-cap ready?
  • Are you attentive to the words God has commissioned on your ball cap today?
  • Does it hang in a prominent place where it is easily grabbed when needed, or stashed in a remote corner of your closet?

PRAYER FOR TODAY:

Heavenly Father, you are aware of the ball-cap I wear everyday. Let it be that of a servant’s heart, one who truly cares and seeks to lay my own will aside to serve others because that is what Jesus has called me (us) to do.

Remind me that small acts can have a huge impact when guided & ordained by you. Inspire me to wear a servant’s ball-cap every day and take the focus off my needs and put others first.

AMEN

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Runaway Mouths

our wordsThe mouths of mankind are like a runaway train that manages to operate even though it is no longer navigated by the tracks that served to guide it to a destination of purpose.

“Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
(Psalm 141:3)

Some of the most obvious runaway mouths are found in the political arena; but, there are less obvious runaway mouths to consider whose tongues yield no return when the words they speak are applied to people.

What does that mean?

It means that fruitless, idle and unproductive words spoken about others are considered unguarded with the power to injure passengers on that runaway mouth train. Your first reaction may be who cares; they are my words and I will use them as I wish. Really now, let’s see what God has to say about that.

“But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)

That one scripture alone should change our attitude and view about runaway mouths, but it’s not the only verse in the Bible that gives reference to the importance of the words we speak. There are plenty more that indicate we will be held accountable for every word we utter that yields no profitable return.

“May the words from my mouth and the thoughts from my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my defender.” Psalms 19:14

But I didn’t say it out loud…

I just typed my words on Facebook, texted or sent my words via Messenger. It was a private message. People, there are no private messages, conversations, comments or remarks where accountability to God is concerned and one day, we will be judged and held accountable.

Consider this: our thoughts are just as accountable to God as the words we speak. You say, “I don’t have any control over my thoughts!” Well, according to scripture you do. Our thoughts are formed by the things on which we focus our attention.

“Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:8)

What are you reading or watching? What activities engage your mind? The real question is what are you allowing to capture your thought process? I remember the catchphrase from my college days when the DOS operating system was the craze, “Garbage in, garbage out.” It’s still true today.

Have you exalted yourself as jury and judge of others?

Motive is the key here. You judge someone wrongly when you criticize them out of jealousy, bitterness, selfish ambition, or some other sin, rather than seeking to build him in Christ.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  (Matthew 7: 1-2)

Prayer for Today:

Heavenly Father, navigate my runaway mouth and keep it in check. Remind me that one day my words and thoughts will be replayed on judgment day and I will be accountable for anything that was unacceptable in your sight. I ask forgiveness for all the careless words and displeasing thoughts I can’t retrieve or salvage. Starting today, let the words I speak and the thoughts I think bring glory to you.

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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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Are You a Taker or Giver?

I do plefbe106998c36bce9aa90503259d6015a--amen-so-truenty of community work. Trust me when I say that those who give the most are the least financially equipped. And no, I’m not talking about me; however, if any of you feel compelled to pay off my mortgage, it would be greatly appreciated.

The individuals and families I reference are those you may least expect.  Consider this comment recently shared with me:

“We continually give, because that’s what we do and who we are. Yet, in the giving of our time and non-monetary donations to local events, we have found ourselves in situations where a family member had to gift us money for groceries. We have our kids pack lunches to save on the $3 per child lunch fee, but even then, we fall short and not because we are extravagant.”

Linden Tribe this is an ongoing issue in our community.

There are takers and there are givers. We tend to pay attention to the takers because they have the louder voice; but what about those who don’t voice their need?

Sure, maybe they should, but it’s not who they are; and more likely, it’s not who their parents were either. Asking for a hand-out is difficult. These are families who are not afraid to work. For most, they are college-educated or skilled trade people who just can’t keep up with family expenses.

The list includes single moms/dads living on one pay check, individuals who have fallen on hard times due to health issues. Then there is the average household paying for multiple children in school sports, kids who outgrow clothes and shoes in a matter of months and still have to pay to get into community sporting events. Yes, I know, there are season passes, but really? How much do you save and why isn’t that part of the tax levied by the school district? Just sayin’!

My point

Take it for what it’s worth. The people I reference don’t qualify for food stamps, Obama Care (for what that is worth) or free school lunches. Oddly enough, these are the individuals who are first to volunteer to coach a community sports team or donate their resources to a charitable event.

They see their community as a working mission field and to not serve would be a dishonor.

Food for thought

What are you doing to serve your community? Are you sucking the live out of it and giving back nothing? Then shame on you! Mount your giddy-up horse and find ways to serve, donate, and share the blessings you have been gifted.

I can give you a list of people in our community who would greatly benefit from a grocery store gift certificate.

How are you Paying It Forward to the community where you live?

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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.