Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Blessings of God

One of my favorite songs is the song entitled, "You Have Been Good" by Scott Krippayne.

If I never get to see another rainbow
Or share another life with a friend
If I never stand barefoot by the ocean
Or get to kiss my child goodnight again

If I never have another prayer that's answered
Or have another blessing come my way
If this is all I know of heaven's kindness
Father, I would still have to say

You have been good
You have been good
And I may've wondered how could it be

You have been good
You've been so good
So many ways You've been good to me

You've shown me mercy upon mercy
Grace upon grace, time after time
And I know all too well what I'm deserving
Yet, You are still so patient and kind

You have been good
You have been good
And I may've wondered and how could it be

You have been good
You've been so good
So many ways You've been good to me

The Lord has been SO VERY GOOD to me. Like the author of this song, I can honestly say that if the Lord chose to never answer another prayer or send another blessing my way, I would still be blessed beyond measure by what He has already done in my life.

Each blessing makes me humbly aware of my inability to truly thank God for all He has given me. To try, would take my whole lifetime, plus all of eternity. Yet, giving thanks to God is one of the most beautiful privileges you and I have been given. With so much to be thankful for, our hearts and our prayers should be overflowing with thanks.....but are they?

Last week, as I was driving home from work, listening to the radio, I caught the tail end of a short promo for an upcoming Focus on the Family broadcast. The guest posed this question to the host (and to all of us listening in):

"What if the blessings of tomorrow were only the blessings we gave thanks for today?"

I know. What an awesome question. I don't know about you, but this question revealed to me just how many blessings of the Lord are overlooked each and every day. I experience them (like seeing a beautiful sunset, sharing in a laugh with a friend, savoring a piece of pumpkin pie, smelling my husbands signature cologne), yet I fail to give thanks for them.

One of my old email addresses use to be thankfulheart@........, yet as I continued to try and fully grasp the depth of this question, I realized I'm not as thankful as I thought I was. How I need to daily cultivate a heart that is truly thankful....a heart that is ever mindful of each and every blessing, each and every day.

This Thanksgiving, may the Lord give us eyes anew to truly see ALL of His blessings. As He reveals His gifts of love, may He in return, hear unending words of thanksgiving and gratitude overflowing from the lips of His children.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Even At The Door

One of the perks of having a husband is having your very own small game hunter. At least that’s the way I like to refer to the man of my house. Anytime an eight legged creature or otherwise unwelcome guest is spotted, my husband is beckoned and viola! Bug be gone! It’s like having my very own personal exterminator. The only problem is my man isn’t always home when one of these small beasts decides to pay us a visit. Such was the case one night several weeks ago.

With my husband out of the house for a few hours, I decided to take advantage of my time alone to do some household chores, one of which was laundry. With a basketful of clothes tucked under my arm, I made my way to our garage where our washer and dryer are located. After I started the load, I headed back toward the door leading from the garage into our home. As I reached for the doorknob, I just happened to look up. There, on the ceiling looking down at me, was a scorpion. As our eyes met, I knew there was only one thing to do. I darted into the house as fast as I could, quickly closing the door behind me. Then, I calmly and casually strolled into the living room acting as though this brief encounter had never happened.

Try as I may, though, I couldn’t erase the image of the scorpion from my mind. I knew it was out there. I had seen it and all the pretending in the world wasn’t going to change that. I also knew this fella had legs. It wasn’t going to be content to simply hang out on the ceiling of our garage. Before long, it would decide to venture indoors. Like it or not, I knew I had to kill it before it had a chance to crawl under the door and make itself at home in our home.

Mustering up all the courage I could find, I headed back out to the garage. I picked up my husband’s weapon of choice, a long stick, and proceeded to do some small game hunting of my own. After numerous shrieks (from me, not the scorpion), this would be home invader soon fell lifeless to the floor. Mission accomplished.

As I made my way through the doorway and back into our home, I was reminded of the words found in Genesis 4:7, “sin lieth at the door”. Remember the story? God had asked for an animal sacrifice, but Cain, being a tiller of the ground, had instead offered the Lord a sacrifice of fruits and vegetables. When God didn’t accept Cain’s offering, Cain became angry. God knew if Cain did not squelch this anger before it had time to consume his heart, sin would soon follow. Foolishly, Cain walked away from God’s counsel. It didn’t take long for his anger to take over his thoughts and subsequently, his actions. In the very next verse, in fact, we read the sad details. Cain lured his brother, Abel, out into a field and killed him.

All too often, instead of eradicating the sin in our life once and for all, we foolishly allow it to remain at the threshold. Sometimes, we pretend it doesn’t exist. We go on about our life as though there is nothing to be concerned about. Oftentimes, however, we do acknowledge it, but in our arrogance, we proudly parade around it as though we are invincible and the sin incapable of penetrating the walls of our heart.

Like Cain, when we willfully allow sin to take root in our heart, the following verses of our own life will eventually reveal the sad details. Sin comes packaged with consequences. As the sin plays itself out in our life, we too may discover that our actions have "killed" something very dear to our own heart. Maybe it is our reputation that received the deadly blow. Perhaps it is our marriage that is now lifeless and dead. Possibly, it may even be our very will to live that is found gasping for it's next breath.

The scorpion in my garage didn’t stand a chance. Unfortunately, neither do you and I when it comes to sin. In our own power, we are completely incapable of battling this invader of our heart. How we need a savior.

Have you checked the doorway of your heart lately? Is there a sin lying in wait for an opportune time to make its way into your life? If so, don’t wait another minute. Call upon your Heavenly Father. When we confess our sins to God, He is ever faithful to come to our rescue. His weapon of choice has always been the blood he shed for you and me on the cross of Calvary. As we confess and then repent, God covers this sin with His precious blood, giving us the ultimate victory. With hands held high in praise and thanksgiving to our God, we can once and for all boldly declare, “Mission accomplished!”

Friday, November 6, 2009

Loving in HIS Name

After graduating from college, the Lord led me to New Jersey and to what would turn out to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My college roommate and dear friend, Amy, had accepted a teaching position at a Christian school there and told me about an opening at a daycare center located next door to her school. Having never ventured east of the Mississippi, this new opportunity sounded inviting. After much prayer, I packed my bags and headed for the East coast.

To my delight, I was assigned a class of adorable, rambunctious, lovable two and three year olds. Each day was an adventure in learning…them from me, and most often, me from them. I taught these free-spirited little ones how to be still and stand in a straight line. They taught me to walk to the beat of my own drum. I taught these creative minds how to hold a paintbrush and a crayon. They taught me how to hold my head high and be proud of who I am. I taught these children who were destined for greatness, how to write their name. Four years later, Stephanie would teach me it’s not your name that's important; it’s the love you give away.

Stephanie was a beautiful, energetic three year old. Every day she came dressed in the cutest outfits accompanied by a smile that would light up the room. At a casual glance, one would have assumed Stephanie’s life was as beautiful as she was. Sadly, this notion was far from the reality of her situation. Both her mother and father were in prison and she was living with her grandparents. Even though her living arrangement had change for the better, deep inside, Stephanie still lived with the hurt, pain and abuse that had been such a part of the first three years of her young life.

All of my students quickly warmed up to me and welcomed me into their world. All, that is, except Stephanie. She kept her guard up and never let herself get too close or too comfortable with anyone. How my heart broke for her. Each day I prayed the Lord would pour out His perfect love through me, freeing Stephanie from her own prison of hurt, pain and loneliness; healing this precious little girl of her brokenness.

Weeks turned into months. As we spent time together each day, Stephanie gradually began to lower the emotional wall that had separated her from me. One memorable day, as we were taking a walk in a nearby park, I felt a little hand take hold of mine. It was Stephanie’s. From that moment on, Stephanie and I were heart to heart. The year soon came to an end and so did my time with these precious children. I had accepted a teaching position in Wisconsin and was headed to the Mid-west.

Four years later, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit my friend in New Jersey and to once again go to the daycare where I had taught. As I experienced the familiarity of each classroom and gazed into the eyes of the children now attending, I couldn’t help wishing I could once again see the children who had touched my heart four years earlier. I casually shared this desire with one of the current teachers. Naturally, the children in my class had long since moved on to other cities and schools. One child, however, had enrolled at the Christian school next door. Imagine the joy I felt when I learned this child was none other than Stephanie.

We excitedly made our way to the school and then to Stephanie’s classroom. I anxiously peeked through the window in the classroom door and began scouring the sea of children for this one familiar face. From the far corner of the room, a young girl turned around to speak to a fellow classmate. As she did, she spotted me peering through the window and immediately came running in my direction. I burst into the room and ran to meet her. Stephanie buried her head in my stomach as she embraced me with every ounce of her being. When she finally lifted her head and turned her beautiful face upward to look at me, I couldn’t believe God had blessed me with this unexpected reunion.

As I looked into her eyes, I asked in total amazement, “You still remember me after all these years? You were just three years old when I last saw you.” Then Stephanie said the words I will never forget; words that brought tears not only to my eyes, but also to the eyes of my husband as he witnessed one of the most priceless moments of my entire life.

“I don’t remember your name,” she said, “but I know you love me”.

How fitting that Stephanie didn’t remember my name. My name wasn’t important. Who I was didn’t matter. Amazingly, I was simply the one, hand picked by God, to touch the heart of this precious child with His healing love. What an awesome honor I had been given. My name had long since been forgotten, but it was obvious the love she had received never would be.

As I stood captivated in this divinely orchestrated moment in time, I humbly thanked God. I thanked Him for leading me to New Jersey. I thanked Him for bringing Stephanie into my classroom and into my life. I thanked Him for His incredible love that sets the captives free and heals the most broken of hearts. I thanked him for the incredible honor we have all been given: to love others in HIS name.