faith

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Greetings of peace and love for all who have stumbled upon this lowly blog. It is early morning, and my God woke me with an assignment. I crawled out of bed, made a routine pit stop, and made some fresh brewed coffee before I begin to log in and type. Let me tell you, that is as close to immediate obedience this gal can manage. Thank you Lord for showing me that I am useable.

God has turned my ears and heart to Him recently and spoken through authors, and Christians that make a living out of encouraging others; either through finances, mental health, or offering up meaningful prayers. I am writing this hopefully near the end of the covid-19 crisis, we have been social distancing and a shelter in place reality for 40 days. I just pulled out my calendar and realized that indeed today makes 40 days for us. Forty days in the Bible is a meaningful number, and it certainly makes me even more in awe of the fine details the Holy Spirit doesn’t want me to miss this early pre-dawn morning. The significance is not lost and I’m going to take that as a God wink.

I’m hoping by the end of this piece you would be able to hear Truth, perhaps convicted and respond positively to God. Remember way back when all adults pretty much carried around a checkbook and that is how you made purchases in person at stand alone retailers? (sorry, thinking about my buying habits and brown boxes delivered to my front door) Before duplicate checks, it was imperative to record your spending in a perfectly sized little register that was typically found above your actual checks. You would write down the date, the check number, payee, and the amount paid. If you were really thorough, you constantly had a running balance of the money you had in that account. Each month when you received your bank statement, a diligent responsible person would sit down and reconcile and balance their checkbook. Pretty much the process would mean that you made sure your checkbook register and the bank’s records matched. What if the bank and the account holders numbers didn’t match? For some of us that happened more than others, nowadays we call that operator error. I give you all this historical setting for the youngsters who may be reading to understand. Back in my early 20’s I heard something that has stuck with me through the years. The exact words, or from where I originally heard this escapes me, but the idea conveyed was simply look at that checkbook register and see where you spend your money, it says a lot about what you deem important.  Presently, you can log on to your bank account, perhaps pull out your credit card statement(s) too, look and see how often certain payees appear.

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I didn’t receive a Holy nudge to get out of bed and write a message regarding money management. By no means am I an expert either! I did want to start there because if you have never heard it, well maybe it will stick with you for the rest of your life as it has for me. It should get your gears in that brain of yours going. In the same way you have an impartial paper trail record to inspect your spending, I would love for you to step back and take a look at the way you interact with the world. How do others see you?  Do the words you use build up, or tear down?

Ephesians 4 is a good read at this point. Grab your Bible, take the time to read for yourself, don’t rely on me to interpret God’s word. He is faithful, and will speak to your heart.

Want to know how others see you? Don’t ask them. You know why? Most people are either going to mirror what you think of yourself perhaps out of shared opinions, or they won’t be completely honest because they are “nice” or know of your short fuse and don’t want to make things uncomfortable for either one of you. Like that bank ledger, or credit card statement can speak of our spending habits, is there a way you can objectively step back and view your interactions with the world?

For many of us, you don’t have to look any farther than social media. Imagine a section, or entire timeline of your posts, likes, shares, and comments are printed out. For good measure, a sharpie has blocked out your name as the author and nothing could be traced back to you. Objectively, what could one ascertain about you? What are your habits, mannerisms, beliefs, dare I say political affiliation? What brings you joy?  Do you harbor hostility and hatred? Do you promote love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and last but not least self-control? Are you willing to put your self-righteousness to the side, and do some deep and honest reflections? Are you a follower of Christ? If so pray and allow the Holy Spirit living in you to help inventory your thoughts, opinions, and attitudes. Take some time for personal reflection and prayerfully ask for your eyes to examine your attitudes, opinions, words, and actions through God’s lens. Does our walk (your social media interactions) reflect Him well?

There was a time I wanted to put a bumper sticker on my vehicle that reflected my faith. However, I decided against it primarily because I sometimes speed, turn without a blinker, and either willingly or accidentally cut someone off. I can’t trust my driving to be impeccable every time I am behind the wheel, so I would not be a good advertisement for team Jesus. Does your social media support your claim of being a Christian? Do you reflect Him and His teachings well? Do you pray for your enemies, do you extend grace, or a poster-child for patience? My guess is probably not. What if ALL of us believers united and cleaned up our profiles and gave the enemy no room for a foothold? Remember, Satan is crafty and loves for us to be divisive. He is the accuser, and he is promoted when we devalue God’s creation.

I feel convicted to do some deep social media house cleaning.  All the ugliness will not just find a speed bump when it comes across my feed, but a full stop. I for one do not want to have anything to do with adding a log to the fiery furnace of the pit and gives a victory to the enemy. Our social media is a written and visual response to our world and how we interact with others of every background. I will continue to humbly pray and ask the Lord to prepare my heart, and mind and attitude to reflect Him in all I do. I want to be so filled up with the fruit of His Spirit, that when people scroll by me I splash a little encouragement, and love, and provide light to a dark and hurting world. I choose Jesus and I choose Joy! May these words and the attitude of my heart be reflected and received as a blessed billboard for the Kingdom of Heaven.

faith

Faith Story – Part 3

Monday, November 10, 2014 I would see my Uncle for the first time in 5 years. I was prayed up, and thankful that I have my journal to share my exact prayers for that day.

Lord, keep me focused on my Uncle. I will abide by his wishes and do not want him to be disturbed. Give me calm, give me guidance, give me direction as to what I need to know, do, say, and feel. I surrender. I can not effectively (and with a level head) do this on my own.

When I walked in that ICU room that day my uncle met my presence with a question, “What are you doing here?” My earlier prayers were immediately answered because I calmly replied by telling him that, “I loved my grandmother, and she loved me. You sir, are my grandmother’s son. Out of love and honor for her and my Lord, I am here for you.” I also reminded him of her favorite verse, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

That first week, I was met with some big challenges and realizations. My uncle told me that he was a Buddhist. His best friend from grade school (a married lady) was caught in an uncomfortable position because my Uncle had named her as medical guardian and possible executor of his will. Like never before I realized things/stuff/items don’t really matter. I was reminded of my mother’s inability or unwillingness to behave in a manner in which I desire. God’s timing is perfect. My husband and I attended a marriage retreat that first weekend he was in ICU. I was encouraged to go, and grateful we did because it united our marriage in God, and gave us strength that we would need to draw from in this season. Above all, I learned that God will do amazing things when you follow his plan and keep the most important thing as the priority in your life. God first!

I learned when I have no words, all I have to do is turn to the words of holy scripture. Always with a nod of permission from my uncle, I would sit and read the Bible out loud with great clarity and immodesty. My uncle would be intubated on and off for the next 30 days. He would spend more than a week tethered to a bed with tubes, lines, and alarms at all times. Our normal Thanksgiving trip would not happen, as I would be in an intensive care room, with no turkey, and without hopes of a grand family meal occurring. However, Thanksgiving 2014 was remarkable because I would get to experience first hand God’s saving grace. The entry below is from my journal dated November 27, 2014.

My uncle told me he loves me for the first time in 44 years. Today I know that his ability to love me was a gift from our savior. Paul’s salvation is secure. He feels God’s presence. I needed this Lord. He is a blessing and a miracle in my life. Thank you for blessing me with this time of him being in Houston. He is not a burden. He is a joy. He is my uncle who is now my brother in Christ. Receive him into your loving arms where all his fear and anxiety, frustration and weakness will be replaced with safety, security, comfort, joy, praise, and strength. What a glorious day when heaven comes and floods his eyes.

Just days later, I would have to advocate for his quality of life. Day by day, I would be determined in my approach to learn and seek the best care for my uncle. My prayer life grew, my spiritual eyes were opened wide, I was humble in declaring the work God was doing; not on my strength, but all from the power of Christ in me.

Not every moment was I able to be a rock and a crown wearing sister of sainthood. There were moments where I would get angry at my mom’s attitude, or sad at her lack of help. I would suffer a few times in despair with the red tape of trying to navigate government entities, nursing homes, lawyers, banking, taxes, liens, and bills. There was even a situation where there was a person who stole valuables from my uncle, and refused to leave my uncle’s property. But without fail, the times my emotions went awry I took my eyes off God. I would look at my situation, and not rely fully on the one who holds it all in His hands. Often I was reminded of this scripture in Exodus 14:13-14 “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today…The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 

Over the course of the next 4 months, my uncle and I restored a family legacy of love. There was forgiveness, genuine care, and grace displayed for all to see. A true living testimony of the power of Christ. James 1:2-4“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

It has been two years since my life was forever changed by that season my uncle arrived in Houston. I am blessed to know my uncle’s salvation is secure. I am humbled and blessed beyond measure to be used by God for His purposes. The Lord has awarded me in His perfect timing with an Earthly inheritance as well. Not only would my grandparent’s home be saved from the government entities, and be left to me as rightful heir; I would receive something of even greater value. I was honored in getting to know my uncle’s true friend as my own. She and I became prayer partners, we are friends forever, and I am proud to say she is my sister in Christ. Thank you Lord for all you have done. Let us not forget who we are in you, and may we be obedient to your continued calling in our lives.