The Ripple Effect of Kindness

AIMG_8917s we enter into the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, I’ve struggled this year to enjoy all the traditions I always look so forward too. I have a feeling that there are many of you out there that may feel the exact same way…

Maybe it’s the loss of a dear loved one and the season will just not be the same.

Maybe it’s financial burdens and the worry of the lack of gifts you will be able to give.

Maybe it’s a divorce that has torn your family apart.

Maybe it’s the uncertainty of the future for various reasons.

Maybe it’s hardship and pain from causes you never saw coming.

Maybe…

There are people hurting all around us. Hurt and pain seem to be amplified at Thanksgiving and Christmas. “‘Tis the Season to be Jolly…” Unless, you just don’t feel real jolly. So, how do we find the JOY in Christmas if we are struggling to find the JOY in our day to day lives?

During a recent deep time of prayer (the kind where my knees hurt from my really hard tile floors), God simply reminded me that He Knows. And it was the kind of I know from Him that made me feel so loved, it was all I needed in that moment to know as I enter the Season… it’s just about so much more than how I feel. He didn’t discredit my feelings or my pain. He acknowledged them in my prayer time as if He were giving me a hug. But then… in that same time of prayer my heart was pierced with conviction. I simply am not the only person hurting right now. And so many are experiencing hurts that I cannot even conceive. Through my pain and struggles, there is still purpose to be had and God’s work to be done. I am so thankful that the God of James 1:2-4 ” Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance.”  is also the God of 1 Peter 5:7 ” Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” and Isaiah 41:13 ” For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

So does it really matter if I choose to spend the Season under my covers watching a healthy combo of Hallmark and Lifetime movies while eating Bluebell Peppermint Bark ice cream? Can one person really make a difference in this world? 

IMG_8923A God timed phone call from a Holt International rep, reminded me that one person can make a difference by showing God’s love to others. A pebble is just a simple pebble until thrown out into the water, creating ripple after ripple… causing once still water to have movement. One human has the opportunity to show God’s love to a hurting world. The ripple effect that God will use from obedience is something so great that we won’t even see the full effect this side of Heaven.

That phone call I mentioned was a follow up from a mission my Amelia Rose started during this past summer. When receiving a letter that many orphans needed surgeries and care, Amelia Rose asked,” Momma? If I baked, do you think I could raise a lot? Like maybe $75 to send to help?”

IMG_8909200 cakes and 264 cookies later, Amelia Rose raised $1,700. She baked for almost 4 weeks of her summer. And the community joined in, creating a ripple effect of God’s love reaching far beyond what Amelia Rose could have ever done alone. I promised to show how the money would be spent. And after much prayer the following is how Amelia Rose felt led to distribute:

  1. Once anticipating helping with $75 towards a cleft palate surgery and care for 1 orphan… The Gift of a Smile $400. An entire surgery and after care for an orphan will be given.
  2. The Gift of a share of a heart surgery. $300 (this money will go towards the cost of a $3,000 heart surgery for an orphan that will not only save their life, but give them greater chances of being adopted)
  3. School tuition for one year for one child living near Mongolia’s largest dump. $150 Children who attend the Red Stone school in Mongolia come from families who live and work in the city’s largest dump.
  4. A year’s supply of school supplies for 3 students. $30
  5. Shoes for 10 children. $70
  6. A sewing machine and sewing kit for a struggling mom. This will provide income for a mom to provide for her children by sewing and selling clothing. $155
  7. One sheep for a family that will use the wool to make blankets and clothing and earn profits. $85
  8. 2 pigs, 1 cow, and 5 chickens for one family to start a business. These animals will provide milk, meat, eggs and fertilizer for a family to become self-reliant. $365
  9. Give a garden: seeds, tools and training. Provide a family with the training and equipment they need to grow fruits and vegetables. This includes seeds, buckets, fertilizer and training. $45

The remaining $100 (if you are doing the math) will go toward a new mission. Yi (Lee) Ae-Sook, a 61 year old resident at Ilsan ( a Korean resident of homes for the disabled that the Holt family established after the Korean War), recently fell and broke her hip. She has spent her entire life as a resident and after this fall she requires surgery and rehab. If you would like to join in by helping, Amelia Rose will be baking again soon.

Acts 20:35 ” In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

If you lack JOY this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, don’t look for it in the traditional warm and fuzzies of years past. Consider giving out what you feel you yourself need. Time spent with a lonely widow. Babysit for a single mom or dad. Provide a home cooked meal for a widower. Give a special ornament in remembrance of someone’s lost loved one. Befriend the friendless. Share the message of Jesus with the lost.  The blessing you will receive will be from God and maybe not even on this side of Heaven. Do it for His glory and His Kingdom.

Helen Keller said, ” I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

I am only one, but I can be obedient to Him. He can take my obedience and send waves of ripples of His message farther than I could ever imagine. Instead of squeezing God somewhere in between Hallmark movies, parties, programs, decorating and shopping, I’m going to give this season to the ONE who gave me Christmas in the first place. That is where I plan to find my JOY.

Keeping My Eyes on Him

My deeply rooted theological studies and degree come in the form of teaching children’s Bible study. I am always in awe, when the children’s lesson I teach on Sunday lines up to spiritual perfection with the lesson I teach to Ladies on the following Wednesday night. Not planned by flesh, but designed by God to line up two different curriculums in the same week to disciple both children and women within our church. It never ceases to amaze or excite me. But you know what amazes me even more? When the lesson I taught to my church children ends up being perfectly timed to the message my heart needed so desperately.  Such is the case each and every week.

The 14th chapter of Matthew is where you will find the miracle of Jesus feeding over 5,000 men plus women and children from the small basket of fish and loaves that one little boy chose to share. So many at this point in Jesus’s ministry wanted to hear what He had to say. So many hoped to catch a glimpse of one of His miracles being performed. When Jesus finished teaching this crowd, He had the disciples get into the boat ahead of Him. At this time, Jesus went up onto the top of a mountainside by himself to pray (Matthew 14:23). He needed that time with the Father alone. And we do too.

Eventually, Jesus made His way back to the disciples. The boat had gone a considerable distance into the water. Waves and wind enveloping all around. And Jesus walked on the water towards the boat. When the disciples caught sight, they were terrified thinking it was a ghost.

“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:27-31img_5175

I love that Peter so desperately wanted to get to Jesus. I love that he was willing to go when Jesus called him. And for a little while, Peter was so focused on Jesus that he was able to do the unthinkable. Peter walked on water. But the flesh soon took over that beautiful moment. Peter’s focus on Jesus diminished to the reality of what loomed around him. Deep dark waters and roaring wind… and Peter began to sink.

There are days in my life that I am so focused on Jesus and His calling that the wind and waves of life fail in comparison to the beauty of following His divine purpose that he set for my life. And then there are days that my flesh takes over and I see every obstacle before me. My feet fail and I sink. Where once my faith was strong and my eyes focused on Him, doubt washes over me like the strongest of waves. How Lord? How do I continue to serve faithfully without hurt, rejection, failure, insecurity…

When Jesus called Peter out upon the water, He knew his feet and faith would eventually fail. Yet, He called Peter anyway.

When Jesus calls, I will continue to go. I know that my focus on Him at times will be beautiful and strong. And I know I will allow distractions to cause me to momentarily sink and lose sight of Him.

 

That’s when I will cry out for Him to save me. And I know He will. His hand ever present waiting for me to grab hold.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me. ” Hillsong “Oceans”

 

The Lion and the Lamb

img_4981I don’t think any of us as believers start our day planning to ignore God, but we do.

I’m often asked, “How do you hear God speak?”. There is not a One size fits all answer to this of course. But quite simply, we have to be listening.

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

Too often I can be over stimulated, too busy, self-centered, lazy, and distracted to hear Him speak. Oh, He is speaking to me every day, showing up every day, calling me to be Kingdom focused every day, but am I listening? Am I seeking Him? The days that I seek Him first are the sweetest.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

The other day while sitting in traffic, my daughter started looking at the clouds. I smiled thinking of all the times I did this as a child on the farm that I grew up on. As well as all the times I did this with my own children when they were very little. As she went through a plethora of shapes and things, I looked up and saw something that took my breath away. A cloud that was shaped as a majestic lion. Amelia Rose was amazed as well. But we could not have been prepared for what she saw next. As traffic started to move, Amelia Rose continued to look as she exclaimed, “The lion turned into a lamb!” As I gazed into the sky, sure enough the cloud that seconds ago was a majestic lion was now a beautiful lamb.  A beautiful message from God in the clouds. Something I could have easily missed on a busy day in traffic.

“Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and it’s seven seals. Then I saw the Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne…” Revelation 5:5-6

“He’s coming on the clouds

Kings and kingdoms will bow down

And every chain will break

As broken hearts declare His praise

For who can stop The Lord almighty

Our God is the Lion

The Lion of Judah

He’s roaring with power

And fighting our battles

And every knee will bow before Him

Our God is the Lamb

The Lamb that was slain

For the sin of the world

His blood breaks the chains

And every knee will bow before the Lion and the Lamb”  

Big Daddy Weave

Pray that you will not miss a moment with God throughout your day.

 

ANOTHER Blog???

Well… I know what you are thinking. Another blog??? There are so many great blogs already out there. However, the more time I spend in the Word, the more I want to share what He shows me daily. Bottom line… most days I’m a mess! One thing I know for sure, a little encouragement goes a long way!

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

If we were a little more honest with each other, we would realize that we all struggle. With friendships, insecurities, rejections, keeping our sanity, managing our time, worrying too much, trying to fit in, parenting, and just plain struggling to adult most days. Couldn’t we all use a little more encouragement from each other? Starting a blog seemed a little overwhelming to me at first. My sweet hubby decided to just start it for me. But the icing on the cake was a small gift of encouragement from my first blog follower… my daughter Amelia Rose. Encouragement may be delivered in small packages, but it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Ask God how you can encourage someone today.