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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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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

quote-god-did-not-rescue-me-out-of-the-pain-he-rescued-me-through-the-pain-tullian-tchividjian-128-47-56
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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Let Patience Prevail

patienceWhat a joy to spend Thanksgiving weekend with my Mama. I love her so much, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Back in the day, mom and I could tangle like no others. Looking back, we realize that so much of what we disliked about each other was a mirror image of ourselves.

Yesterday, I helped her purchase and set-up a new iPad, make holiday wreaths and spend time with the grandkids. I was taken aback when she turned to me and said, “Denise, you are so patient. “ Patience has never been one of my virtues (at least through my eyes). All I could say was, “Thank you”.

Mom’s comment prompted me to look up the Biblical definition of patience, mostly because, as a pastor’s daughter, God considers patience a virtue. OMG, had I actually acquired a virtue in this crazy life filled with so many failures, disappointments and setbacks?

What is virtue?

I define it as a desirable moral quality that makes the best of any difficult or unsatisfactory situation; from that pothole in the road that never seems to get fixed, to the child crying on your flight to wherever. The Bible defines it as conformity of life and conduct with the principles of morality or simply stated: moral excellence.

Where does patience fit into the mix?

Good question.

  • I believe our ability to be patience is often based upon the person (or persons) with whom we must be patient.
  • That family member or work associate that annoys us just might be God’s gift to build our patience.
  • We grow morally (in virtue) through the daily grind of life. We can either retard or increase our virtue based on our response to daily difficulties and life experiences.

What stunts our growth?

A bitter and resentful spirit can certainly hinder our moral growth; as does anger. An unwillingness to see another person’s perspective also exacerbates our level of impatience, as does the inability to have an empathetic understanding of other’s weaknesses.

The old saying you must walk a mile in someone’s shoes to understand what they are going through is true even today.

So, what’s the goal?

Hopefully, it is a desire to be mindful of how God is at work in the details of our daily life, even in the tiny annoyances we encounter (like the crying baby on the plane). I am convinced Jesus endured nuisance and annoyance from his disciples on numerous occasions, but His patience was remarkable. He knew what it was like to walk around in their shoes.

As Christians, every aspect of our life should be to profile Jesus. Our purpose is to bring us into closer conformity of His image; to see people, situations and life’s challenges through His eyes. At the end of the day, our goal is to look upward and rest in content that God is working all things for His good and purpose in our life.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”
Philippians 2:13

TODAY’S PRAYER:

Lord, some of Your people are hard to love. They can be moody, mean, difficult, and impossible to understand. They blame me for things I didn’t do and have expectations I can’t meet. Sometimes I wish You hadn’t put them in my life.

I need You to show me how much You love them. Reveal what You see under the surface, where they’re hurting, and tell me how to make a difference. Thank you for giving me your patience to be kind and compassionate when I don’t have my own and for loving me when I’m the one who’s difficult in someone else’s life.

 

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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.