Friday, February 17, 2017

Sitting Face to Face with a Refugee

I sat face to face with a refugee the other day.......

     Actually, I sat in a room filled with many refugees; Syrian, Pakistani, Iranian, Palestinian, Iraqi....and many others. I shook their hands and said "hello". I watched some sleep, and others pace, and some sit quietly and attentive. I watched mother's love on children who were not their own, and father's struggle to calm crying babies. I sat on a make-shift couch of crates and cushions while a middle-aged, middle-eastern man with a kind face and a sweet smile, served me a meal of spaghetti and Syrian bread. I watched as they ripped the bread and scooped up the spaghetti like a mini tortilla, devouring every last drop, not knowing when they would eat again.
     I heard stories of pain and heartache, loss and betrayal. I observed weary faces and tired bodies; sun-parched skin and furrowed brows. I saw the look of fear and dread in some, and of hope and love in others. I rode past condemned apartments which many of them are calling home, with broken windows and partial doors, wondering how they stayed warm at night. I saw others huddled under blankets on public sidewalks, oblivious to the passers-by.
    I saw humanity at it's worst, and yet, humanity at it's best. As I stood in the middle of a city in Greece, half way across the world, I observed the outcome of the atrocities that others in the human race have had to endure. Their flight from the terror and inhuman behavior have led them to this place. Their desperation for safety and freedom, for love and acceptance has not gone unnoticed. A small group of people in a large city of Greece, operating out of a small store-front are attempting to change the lives of refugees from around the world. Daily, this small group of people, wander the city streets seeking and searching for those the world has forgotten and tossed aside. They offer them food and clothing, love and acceptance, but also hope and forgiveness. One by one, they come to this tiny store-front. At first, with fear and trepidation, but it isn't long before they realize that this is the safest place they've ever been. Some spend weeks and months frequenting this place, while others spend years, but all are offered the same opportunities and experiences.
     It is in this same tiny place that the love and salvation of Jesus Christ is shared with them. Many accept this offer of salvation, turning from their only known religion and realizing they can be killed for that decision. While there, I saw faces of joy and hope. I watched as they said "good-bye" to those who gained approval to move on to other countries to start a better life. The excitement on their faces gave way to sorrow for having to leave the safety and security of those who had become family to them. I watched as others gathered round to pray for them, love on them and wish them well, hoping and praying that they would be the next recipients.
     I wish you could see the sights that I saw. I wish you could hear the stories I heard. I wish you could feel the emotions I felt. I wish your heart could break like mine broke.

I wish you could sit face to face with a refugee........

Monday, November 2, 2015

Caught in a Trap!

"Things that look attractive and appealing, often times, take you down a path of destruction."

     I know you're probably thinking, "What in the world is that picture?" Well, let me explain. 

     Every summer, we have a horrible time with wasps invading our front porch. This summer has proven to be worse than years past, preventing me (or anyone else) from sitting and enjoying the comfort of our big covered porch. One day, my dad came home with a solution, a wasp trap! Actually, it's nothing more than a glorified STICKY fly trap.

     I really couldn't imagine how this thing could possibly work, I mean, "what would entice the wasps to the trap?"

     I took a quick glimpse of the instructions before I hung the trap up and it said something about the colors and design of the trap attracting the bothersome bugs. It didn't matter one way or another to me, as long as it solved my problem.
     Well, not even an hour later, there were 10 wasps stuck to this ingenious contraption! Yes, they were struggling and looking pitiful, but I hardened my heart as I smiled and walked away. Over the next few days, we captured many, many more wasps, flies and various other insects. I was elated and decided to look into buying stock in this product.

     After about a week of owning this wasp annihilator, I glanced at the trap as I was pulling into our driveway. From a distance, it looked as if it was completely covered in dead bugs. Overwhelmed with pleasure, I entered the house and told my husband of my revelation. He then informed me that it wasn't dead bugs that I was seeing, but rather, BIRD FEATHERS!  

     Some poor, unfortunate bird, enticed by a free meal (and probably the beautiful design and colors) appeared to have lost all his feathers (and almost his life) on this apparent smorgasbord from heaven.  

     Isn't that just like us as humans too? We are drawn to the beautiful, alluring, enticing things this world has to offer. And even after other's warn of the impending danger, we dive in head first. After all, just one touch couldn't possibly do any harm, right? Ask that question of that featherless bird, hobbling around and I bet he'd answer you differently.

     The enemy of our soul, Satan, tries to entice us with beautifully, seductive things like money, love, perfection, possessions.....and the list goes on. But there's always a catch, and we never see it until it's too late. It's after we're caught in the trap, screaming and pleading for our life, that we realize the huge mistake we've made. 

     Think through the decisions you make before you latch on to the next latest and greatest thing. Don't believe everything others tell you about how great it will be or how it will make your life better. More than likely, they're trying to pull you in so they're not alone in their misery. Hence the saying, "misery loves company!"

      Ask yourself these questions; "What will the ramifications be if I do this? How will it affect me and my family, next week, next month or next year? Is it just satisfying my fleshly desires or will it be best for everyone around me? Am I ashamed for anyone else to know about this?" If you have to enjoy whatever it is in secret, then that's a pretty good indication that it's a bad decision. 

     Don't buy into the world's philosophy to only focus on yourself and your happiness. To be completely fulfilled and satisfied in life, you have to focus on others. Look outside of yourself and your desires and find a need. Then fill that need. You'll be amazed at what can transpire out of that. The world is waiting for you to make a difference. Will you take the challenge? Or will you settle for a wasp trap?.........

Have a great day!


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

All Natural Beauty!

     My husband, Nat, retired in January after 25 years as a fireman. With more time on his hands, he has gone back to one of his favorite hobbies, woodworking. Believe me, I'm not complaining, I have plenty of projects for him! His latest project is a beautiful farmhouse table, and I've watched him agonize over every detail of this table for the past week. Every detail and dimension had to be just right or the table wouldn't function properly.

           Yesterday, he started one of the final steps before the "fun" work (as I call it) could begin....sanding. It's amazing what the table looked like after this step! With all the rough edges gone, it was so smooth and beautiful; an all natural masterpiece!

     Well, today was the day that the next step could begin, you know, the fun stuff.....staining. I scoured Pinterest for days looking for just the right finish idea to use on our new piece of furniture and I decided on a dark stain top and a white distressed bottom. But as I was getting dressed for the day, the Lord began to speak to my heart about the table and I thought I'd share it with you.
     We, as women, get so excited to buy new clothes, shoes, make-up and accessories to  "doctor up" our exterior. We spend untold amounts of money on these purchases to make ourselves feel better and to make others believe that we're more beautiful than we feel on the inside. When in reality, what really matters, is what's underneath! God spent untold amounts of time on every detail and dimension of who we are. We are sensitive, compassionate, loving, loyal, smart, witty, creative beings, made in his image......which means we're absolutely beautiful!
     Let's stop putting so much emphasis on the exterior and start accepting ourselves and our bodies for who we are. I'm not saying you can't "doctor yourself up" any longer (I love TJ Maxx as much as the next person!) but let's do it for the right reason. We don't need to hide underneath the facade of perfection, but instead, let the awesomeness of our all natural beauty shine through for the world to see! And I believe as we begin to accept and love ourselves, other women will take notice and make a step in that direction too. Making a difference in our own lives can make a huge difference in someone else's!

By the way, here's a picture of the table with the stain on top. Tomorrow, I go shopping for the paint for the bottom!

Have a great day!


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Women's Club


 Competitive, Caddy, Snotty, Stuck-up, Stand-offish....

     Here's a partial list of words women often use to describe each other. You know you've heard them used before or you've probably spoken them yourself. More than likely, they've been used to describe you and I, on occasion. Behind our backs, of course! But then again, we would never dream of saying any of these words to someone's face, let alone, expect them to say them to ours.
     Welcome to a woman's world! We have our own little women's club (whether we realize it or not) and only those who are "worthy" are allowed into our membership. It's the unwritten, unnamed, never-ending club of the female world. I think it starts in elementary school, at the age when girls start noticing differences in each other. 
You know, like..........
                        she's taller than me
                        her hair is longer than mine
                        her clothes are much more prettier than mine
                        look at how blue her eyes are
                        she can run so much faster than me
                        she gets A's on all her tests
                        the boys pay so much attention to her

     It's when girls start noticing the strengths in others that they begin doubting their own! It's starting at a younger and younger age, and it seems to continue all through life.
     Let's just call it what it is..........INSECURITY!
     There, I said it!
     We all suffer from it. Go ahead and admit it.
     It's comes straight from the pit of hell and we have no chance of getting rid of it unless we first admit it to ourselves.
     We're all insecure, in some way. And most of the time, those insecurities come about by comparing ourselves to others. We're not satisfied with how God made us, or with the gifts and talents that he gave us. Instead, we look at the strengths in others and in turn, see the deficiencies in ourselves. Then we take it a step further and place judgement and hatred on women we haven't even taken the time to get to know.
      Here's what I mean.........
             A new woman enters your job, church, or women's club. She's tall, thin, very pretty and dressed very fashionably. Some of the first thoughts of every other woman in that room (if they would admit it):

              " Who's that woman?"
               "Boy she's pretty!" 
               "She has the cutest outfit and boy, it fits her so well!"
               "Her hair is so thick and long."
               "I bet she colors it."
               "She can't be a real blonde because her eyebrows are brown."
               "For her age, she's really perky and big." 
               "I bet they're not real!"
               "Oh, wait.....she looked my way.....she didn't even smile.......I knew it, 
               she's probably a snot!"

     Our insecurities cause us to destroy ourselves and every relationship we could ever have!
     I spent a good portion of my younger years comparing myself to others and to the unrealistic expectations of the world. I wasted years trying to be someone else......someone who God didn't create me to be. I never felt that I was pretty enough, funny enough, nice enough, smart enough...........I could go on and on. It wasn't until my late 30's that God taught me to be okay in my own skin. He showed me that I was created in HIS image, which means that I am beautiful to him! I learned that how I treat others way outshines how I look on the outside! Personality is way more important than a perfect manicure.

      It's been a process and a I wish I could have grasped hold of a lot sooner. But now, as one of the "older women", I try to pass on this wisdom to the younger women. There are still moments when my old self tries to resurface, especially when other women will drop one-liners about my appearance. You see, I have always been very thin due to a thyroid issue. Most women don't know that about me, and if they do, they say they wish they had my problem. But what they don't understand is that being "too thin" makes you feel as insecure as being "too big". Only difference is that others aren't afraid to remind you how "thin" you are! One lady once told me that "I was so thin that she would never sit behind me again"! I understand now that when people comment about my thinness, that they're just allowing their insecurities to show through, but for years, those comments crushed me.
     We all fight different battles and we can't begin to understand those battles unless we take the time to get to know each other, stop the comparison wars and truly love and care for each other. We aren't in a competition, we're all on the same team, striving for the same goal. What's that goal? To be the best woman we can be! When we understand who God created us to be, we can then begin to love and accept ourselves. From there, we can be the best wives, mothers, daughters, and friends EVER!!

Women desperately need each other! Let's overcome our insecurities and be there for each other! We can accomplish so much more together!

As true friends and supporters of each other we should:

    Cheer louder than the hecklers
    Love stronger than the haters
    Care deeper than the backstabbers
    Support longer than the naysayers
    Compliment higher than the gossipers
       and most of all.....
             Love beyond measure!

Have a great day !


Monday, October 19, 2015

The Wrong Path.....or is it?


  Today is a one year anniversary for me. "One year anniversary of what?", you may ask. Well, one year ago today, the course of my life changed because of the actions/decisions of another person. In other words, the path of my life took a drastic unexpected turn in a direction that wasn't in my initial plan. 
     The details of the story really don't matter; what matters is MY reaction. I'd be lying if I told you that I reacted perfectly because in reality, I was really thrown for a loop. I felt as though the rug was pulled out from under me and I just simply wanted to lay there and not get up again. The anxiety, panic attacks, bouts of fear and disappointment over someone else's actions was quite overwhelming. 
      I know many of you reading this have gone through similar situations in your lives where other's actions have changed the course of your life. Many of you have suffered tremendously due to the intentional or unintentional actions of another. Maybe it was abuse or betrayal or maybe it was an unexpected death of a loved one. There are so many things that can happen to us, especially when we least expect them. Life throws us curve balls when we haven't even stepped up to the plate. What do we do when we get knocked down or thrown off course? As I see it, we have two choices: we either let the craziness of life take us out completely or we get back up and start over again.
     As I look back over the past year, there have been many ups and downs. Probably more low points than high points, but I'm still breathing. A major course change at this point in my life, has been a bit more difficult to maneuver. But one thing is for sure; God is STILL in control. None of this has been a surprise to him. He wasn't caught off guard by the situations in my life. Quite the opposite! He knew ahead of time, of the things that were to transpire in my life and he was prepared to guide me through the rough terrain.
     Here's the crazy thing: As I sit here today typing this blog, I realize that I'm right smack dab in the middle of where I want to be! It certainly hasn't been the road I wanted to travel to get here, but I'm here anyway. How does that happen? I don't think it's any secret how it happens. Some may call it coincidence or karma or good luck, but I KNOW that it's MY GOD who causes ALL things to work for good in my life!!
     I want to encourage you today to get back up! Don't let the situations of life or the actions of others take you out. You're still breathing, which means God's not done with you yet! Keep putting one foot in front of the other and before you know it, you'll look around and see that you're right where you wanted to be all along. God has a way of doing that when we trust him and believe that he has our best interest at heart. Your path may have changed............but your destiny hasn't!

Have a great day!


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

When Life Goes Wrong.....God Is There "Through All of It"!

     This is a great video to watch and realize that God is ALWAYS with us...through the good times and especially through the bad times!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Perspective......Everyone's got one!


  It's Monday again! Did you wake up ready to face the day and week, or did you dread getting out of bed?
     No more dreading! It's a new day, a new beginning, a new adventure just waiting for you to grasp hold. Ask any of my friends, and they will tell you that even after my absolute worst days, I will say, "I can't wait to climb into bed and end this day because tomorrow morning will start a brand new day!" 
     God gives us second, and third, and forth chances to start all over again!! The Bible tells us that "His mercies are new every morning". (Lamentations 3:22) He's the God of do-overs and begin-agains. Don't you love that? I sure do!
     Are you carrying around hurts, fears, problems and stresses that keep you from enjoying life? Day after day, the weight of the problems rest heavier and heavier on your shoulders. Life becomes so burdensome that you don't even want to face the day. The focus of life becomes your problems, rather than the blessings that are all around you. All you need is a little change of perspective. What would life look like if you didn't have to worry about all the negative things going on? Wouldn't it feel great? 
     Well, I can't take all your problems away, but I can send you to someone who can! And I can't promise that He'll take all your problems away, but he can change the way you think about your problems. You see, a problem to one is a blessing to another.

A broken a dream to one who walks everywhere
A hyperactive a blessing to a barren woman
An unhappy a fantasy to the unemployed
A fight with your a dream come true to the lonely
An unclean an over the top blessing to the homeless

     Change your thought process, and change your life!! I know it's not easy! But it all starts with CHANGE! And it all starts with YOU! You can't change your life by changing someone else. You have to change YOU! Look deep inside and be honest with yourself. Make the needed changes to your perspective and you'll be amazed how wonderful it will feel to face Monday morning......or any morning! 

Have a great day!