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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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Seasons of Grace

img_3614[1]I gaze out window watching remnant leaves from the fall season gracefully skate across the surface of my ice-glazed deck.

They spin around and then smoothly skim the surface of the ice with occasional moments of being air bound before gracefully, flawlessly descending back to the icy surface.

And then, without notice, the edge of the remnant leave becomes caught in a crack. It fights to free itself to no avail. Suddenly a gust of wind dislodges it and it once again is free to glide across the surface of my ice-glazed deck.

We are all leaves fallen from grace trying to weather the seasons of life. There are winter season when we navigate across ice-glazed surfaces to keep our balance; avoiding cracks and thin ice.

Spring brings the emergence of new growth. We labor to recover from any losses in the wintry season of our life. The arrival of summer’s glorious, bountiful sunshine is welcomed. It’s a time of renewal, joy and reprieve. Our dreams for the future blossom, we bear fruit and flourish in preparation for fall.

Fall descends and the colorful sprays of leaves will soon fade and turn brown. A reminder of how we have all fallen from grace. It’s nature’s call for us to reconcile with the Creator of all things because winter is coming.

“In [fellowship with] Christ we have redemption [i.e., we have been bought back from Satan] through His blood, and have forgiveness of sins according to the abundance of God’s unearned favor,”
Ephesians 1:7

PRAYER FOR TODAY

Heavenly Father, no matter the season I face in my life, I ask for your guidance, encouragement and the knowledge that you go before me in all things. You have eternal purpose for each and every one of us whether we choose to accept it or not.

Open my eyes to see my life through your eyes. A life that is redeemed, rescued and full of plans directed and orchestrated by you.  In my bleak and barren seasons lead me, in those seasons of rejoicing may my feet dance in praise for your enduring mercies and endless kindness.

In all things, I give you thanks always.

Amen

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And So It Is Christmas

Aand so it is christmasnd so it is Christmas…

A day children awaken with wide-eyed anticipation of presents delivered overnight by Santa or gifted by family and friends. It’s a day that often includes a Christmas dinner or for some, like myself, a day of grazing on leftovers from earlier family gatherings.

And so it is Christmas…

Wrapping paper is torn from boxes and emptied of their contents. Ribbon, bows and gift tags are scattered on the floor as the joyous litter of another Christmas is tossed into an oversized garbage bag.

And so it is Christmas…

Favorite holiday movies are watched throughout the day, family board and card games are played together and laughter is shared amidst all the typical pandemonium and commotion of Christmas day.

And so it is Christmas…

Dusk descends and the day draws to a close. Bedtime prayers are said as the kiddos are tucked into bed. It’s been an eventful day and as the tree lights are switched off, I glance up at the moon and stars that shine brightly against the backdrop of the dark sky.

And so it is Christmas…

In that quiet moment I am reminded of a time long ago when a stable feeding trough was a makeshift crib for a baby destined to redeem our world from the guilt of our sin and disobedience to His Father: GOD.

And so it is Christmas…

My head hits the pillow, exhausted by the activity of the day. I whisper a prayer as I rejoice in the true meaning of Christmas: The peace, contentment and hope that the birth of Jesus gifted to me.

It may not be a peace that changes my circumstances, but IT IS a calm that can fill my mind and heart during the worst storm—contentment that poverty or plenty cannot take away—a sense of hope that God is in control, no matter what happens.

It’s not something I work up, or earn—it is a gift from God, a gift each of us can unwrap this Christmas Day, or any day. The gift of salvation brought through the birth of Jesus.

And so it is Christmas…

Rejoice, celebrate and claim your free gift of salvation because it’s the only gift that really matters at the end of the day. When tree lights are unplugged, presents unwrapped and guests return home and food put away, you are left with the backdrop of the night sky and yourself.

And in the stillness of the night, I pray you choose to embrace the true gift of AND SO IT IS CHRISTMAS. His name is JESUS.

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The Beauty of Pain: It Turns Us to Love

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I listened to a play list of my favorite songs today.  Each song represented a season in my life. Some brought memories of reclaimed joy while others resonated with lyrics that held my emotions hostage to some of my deepest moments of pain.

Letting go of what no longer supports a healthy lifestyle or relationship can be painful. It may be a failed marriage, death of someone deeply loved, feelings of emotional abandonment or quitting an addiction. There are a plethora of reasons and life events that torment our body, soul and mind.

When we fail to seek the divine consult of God and pursue our own desires, there will be consequences. Make no mistake, our heavenly Father loves us deeply, but the outcome of our success requires obedience to HIS will and planned purpose for our life.

If you are like me, you will screw up and it will be a hot mess. But, there is beauty to be found in our pain. How can that be?

God stands ready at any given time to turn our pain into HIS love and take our ashes and replace them with garments of joy. Isn’t that so like God?

And so, as tears filled my eyes in remembrance of the painful times in my life, I remembered that I am a child of an Almighty God who will forever point my pain in the direction of HIS love. It is my heartache coupled with HIS unconditional love that has shaped me into the person I am today.

We all experience physical, emotional pain and challenges of life. The beauty behind that pain is Jesus. He can transform it into joy and love if we allow Him to actively engage in our heartbreaks, hurts, losses and grief.

There is beauty in pain when we give it all to Jesus! It brings to mind the lyrics of an Evie song:

Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows?
Are you tired of spinning round and round?
Wrap up all the shattered dreams of your life
And at the feet of Jesus lay them down
(Chorus)
give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus
Shattered dreams, wounded hearts, broken toys,
Give them all, give them all, give them all to Jesus
And He will turn your sorrow’s into joy

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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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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