Giving in the Smallest Way

corn

Hosea 10:12 Sow righteousness, reap love. It’s time to till the ready earth, it’s time to dig in with God, Until he arrives with righteousness ripe for harvest.

My husband is a pastor. His role is to attend to the things God has given him. In our yard there is a bird feeder that Doug put up  years ago. I tease him each time he fills it. “Helping God out huh?” He smiles and season after season he puts the bird seed in the feeder. The birds are amazing and you can learn a lot from them. They take only their daily bread. They don’t store for the future, they don’t fight over food. They somehow know they’ll each have enough. I watch them as they eat their meal then fly off and another group stops to grab a bite. It’s entertaining and makes me smile. Our dogs surprisingly ignore their chatter, our cat swishes her tale back and forth menacingly from inside the family room window.

Then one day a corn stalk sprouted. Just like that.  A harvest for faithfulness. Because even when giving in the smallest way, there is the law of sowing and reaping. It’s a principle sent from heaven to rest on earth. There is no getting around it. Whatever word or action you speak will return multiplied.

Sow righteousness and love and may your day reap a plentiful harvest of every good and perfect gift from our Lord today!

It’s The Eve of His Birthday

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It’s the eve of his birthday and he’s fast asleep, but this Pastor’s wife needs the Pastor to wake up and help her get the church decorated today.

“Baby, I need your help today.”

“Oh, but I was sleeping so good. I know, I know, I’m up.”

It’s the eve of his birthday and Child # 3 has her car in the shop.

“Dad can you give me a ride to work. I have to leave in 20 minutes.”

“20 minutes, okay.”

It’s the eve of his birthday, but since he’s going that way…

“Baby can you pick up donuts for the crew and stop at Starbucks for me?”

“Sure, the usual?”

“Yes please.”

It’s the eve of his birthday and we’re decorating the church. I guess everyone had plans. It’s us, then one family comes by to help, then Vikki comes by, and it looks like that’s it, so he’s stuck doing a little more than he counted on this morning. Late morning 5 more show up.

It’s the eve of his birthday and he slips away to get his head together for the morning, since Sunday service is tomorrow.

It’s the eve of his birthday and comes out of his office at almost 1 pm.

“I don’t feel good, my body aches and I feel a little nauseous. I feel like I need to eat something other than coffee and donuts.”

I had planned a dinner for his birthday tonight, and eating at this time will ruin it so let’s just go with it. He needs to eat.

It’s the eve of his birthday and he says, “So what are your plans for the rest of the day?”

“I have to start laundry and change the sheets. What about you?”

“I’d love nothing more than a nap, but I have to get back to the office.”

It’s the eve of his birthday and he comes home at 6:45 p.m. child # 3 in tow.

“Dad I need to take a load of stuff to my new place.”

“Oh! Can’t it wait until tomorrow? I really need to rest.”

“It’s the first night in my new place. I can call someone else to help me.”

“No, it’s okay, I’ll help.”

It’s the eve of his birthday and he comes home closer to 8 pm.

“I need a shower and a bed.”

It’s the eve of his birthday and a saint from the church calls.

“Pastor, my car broke down. Can you help me? I’m an hour away and can’t get home.”

“Let me get dressed and I’ll be right there.”

“Let me drive, you ride and rest”, I say.

He calls child # 3. “The temp is supposed to drop. Come home and pick up more blankets, just in case.”

It’s the eve of his birthday and his cell phone rings on the way to pick the stranded saint. It’s another saint. His dad is heading for heaven and he needs his pastor.

“I’m on my way to pick up a saint broken down out of town. I will get him, turn right around and be to you.”

It’s the eve of his birthday and we’re at the hospital cafeteria, waiting with the family.

“Happy Birthday Pastor”, everyone says to him just after midnight.

It’s his birthday and we roll out of the hospital at 1:15. He sees the car of another saint in the parking lot. “What are they doing here? Should I go back in and make sure everything is okay?”

It’s his birthday and we’re driving home.

“It’s amazing all we’ve been through together with this family. You know, I remember when the twins were born. They were so tiny, preemies. The doctor didn’t give them much hope. We prayed. Now they’re grown and graduating high school. You know, Toby glowed tonight. When I asked him if he was ready to go he said yes. Then we prayed together. I asked him if he had peace and he did. Susan, he looked peaceful. He’s ready.”

It’s his birthday and it’s 2 a.m. I’m baking cookies for the Kingdom Kidz snack tomorrow and he’s getting ready for bed. He’s not perfect, he’s had his fair share of life happenings but he loves what he does and he was called to do it.

So today, I want to wish you a Happy Birthday My Love. Looks like you’re finally getting that nap you’d wanted since yesterday. In just a few hours you’ll be behind the pulpit preaching your heart out with the message God has placed on your heart. You keep telling me that you have to be called to do this job, and you are. You really are.

If The Shoe Fits

Am I the only woman on the planet that looks at Cinderella and thinks, “WHAT A CROCK!”?

I don’t know the idea of spending a whole night dancing with a guy, staring into each other’s eyes, and then running home so fast to beat curfew that I leave a beautiful shoe behind is bad enough. Compound that with a guy who supposedly is madly in love with me but sends some of his workers out, who have never seen me by the way, to bring me back to his place is insulting. Add to that the fact that there are millions of size 7 1/2 women out there and what are the chances he marries the wrong girl and we both forever live with one beautiful shoe and a heel? C’mon! That’s a nightmare not a fairy tale!

We’re going to talk about that and more at the new season of TLC4Women next Monday night, August 13, at 7 pm. I’ll see you there!

Worshipers United

We had the privilege of coming together with a few of our favorite friends to have a night of worship. I was excited to worship with these fellow believers but I had no idea what God had in store for all of us.

Our church band opened. They started a high energy set and as always were a blessing.

Cruz Berumen-Flores
Cruz Flores

Steve Valencia
Steve Valencia Jr.
our fearless leader my husband
Our fearless leader, my husband, Doug Young

Then Jason Calderon, who leads worship at the Foursquare Church, Day3, down the street did an amazingly beautiful acoustic set.

Jason CalderonJason Calderon

After that, Aslan a band led by Rob Cox, began to play. The prophetic gift began and God showed up mightily and restoration and saturation continued. Wow!

AslanJulie Cox

Just like this the night would have been amazing. Whole, complete, and nothing missing. Until I noticed…..

That's our kid!
That’s our kid!

In each set, were the son’s of the pastors who had given their lives to spread the message of Jesus in this city. The second generation was now rising up! I thank you Lord for the privilege of being a part of this amazing night!

The Call Of Love

” According to your faith let it be to you.” ~Matthew  9:29

It’s been a stressful week. We’re moving the RMA store to a bigger location. You may not understand what I mean. I mean a 3X bigger location. Every muscle in my body aches, my back hurts, 12-14 hour days, and yet there is an excitement I can’t contain as my artistic skills are put to the test in the decorating department. Everyone is working so hard.

We have two rescue cats in the store. I went to the local shelter to rescue an adult cat when we found a mouse in the store. I’m scared of mice and not ashamed to admit it. When I got to the shelter, there was only one adult cat. Of course there was a catch because there always is in my life. The adult cat came with a kitten attached, literally! So, Fiona, affectionately known as Mama Kitty, and Anya came to live at the RMA store.

They have lived with us for almost two years now and knowing cats hate change, I had them moved last. They came to the new location yesterday. Mama Kitty meowed some, but Mama Kitty knows what’s up. She looked around, milked some treats out of us, and realized any place is better than the shelter, so she went exploring. When she’d get scared she’d come to me and I’d lift her up and snuggle.

Anya, on the other hand, was freaked out with a capital F. She cried out, she ran from every hand including mine. I put her in a room with her food and litter and thought a little quiet would do her good. Nope an hour later, I could not find her. At first, I thought she was hiding. Then I thought maybe she had made a run for it as the door had been left open. I began to walk around the building paying special attention the bushes. My poor Anya had never been outside. She’s a store cat, it’s all she knows. She has never been away from her mom, except for the time she was spayed.

My friend Vikki said, “I hope she turns up or you won’t be able to relax at all.” She knows me. I could not find Anya. I had to go to the office to wait for the payroll and process it. Where could she be? I left the store at 4 p.m. and returned at 7:30 p.m. Where was Anya? I can’t let her sleep outside. I can’t lose her. I am responsible for her.

“Father, I need your help. I can’t find Anya. She’s scared. It’s not her fault we’re moving. I know you see all and you know where she is. Give me your vision in this moment and help me find her. I know you know where she’s at and I know you know my heart towards her. You care about the birds so I know you care about Anya. Help me Lord, direct me, show me where she is. I trust you. I have faith in you. I know you’ll show me. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray. Amen.”

I drove around the back of the building in the dark with my brights on. “Show me where she is Lord.” Dogs were barking furiously in the residential area behind the shopping center. “Lord, protect her.” I parked the car and walked into the building. It was dark and the only light was from the parking lot. I was met by Mama Kitty. “Meow, meow, meow!” She’s weaving in and out of my legs with urgency. I said, “I know sweety. Where’s the baby kitty? Where’s Anya? Help me find her sweet girl.” “Meow, meow!” She moves with urgency as she seems to be saying, “Come with me.”

I follow her and she leads me straight to a muffled cry. “meow, meow”, they are both crying now. “Anya, I hear you baby girl, where are you?” “meow, meow”, her response is so muffled. I move a dresser and there she is. I snatch her up as she shivers. “Thank you Jesus!” “It’s okay baby girl. It’s okay.”

Lord, that you leave the 99 to take me by the hand to show me the desire of my heart. That you would use a cat as your call of love, to lead me to the spot. That you would care about me in the midst of famine, wars, heartache, and trouble.

I watched Anya as she would rub on her mother and rub on me, hair standing up on her back, scared but safe. I am reminded that this is what kingdom life is. “Where are we going Lord?” “Just follow me and have faith.” “I don’t know what is required of me in this journey I’m scared.” “Just trust and follow.”

If You’re Poor You Can’t Be Choosy

We run a thrift store. Out of that thrift store, we are able to help people in our community with essential items. Some of our customers come in to shop for bargains. Others come in to shop for free due to a hardship. Thank God our community has responded so well to this. They donate items all the time and they keep us running. They are truly the blessing in this story.

As with anything else, there are a few bad apples to spoil any bunch. We have people who come by to donate a couch, let’s say. The couch has been out on the back porch for a while. The dogs have laid and peed on it, it’s been rained on, it’s got huge gashes of fabric missing and the cushions are pretty much flat as a pancake. Like the picture above it is passed it’s expiration date. The conversation goes something like this:

US: “We’re sorry we won’t be able to take your couch as a donation. It has to be a usable item. It has to be ready for someone to use. Unfortunately we don’t have people who can repair it.”

THEM: “Well, isn’t it going to poor people?”

US: “Yes it is, however this couch isn’t usable in its condition.”

THEM: “I just think if you’re poor, and you need something, you take what you can get.”

US: “Yeah, sorry, no, we can’t take it. It isn’t usable. If you’d like us to dump it for you the dump fee is $20 since they charge us to dispose of it. If you want to pay the $20 we’ll dump it for you.”

This is when the conversation either gets weird or good. Sometimes it’s met with relief. They understand the problem, they just don’t know what to do with the item. They gladly pay the fee and leave it with us. Other times, they become angry. They say things like, “I’ll just go dump it by the homeless people stay.” Or they wait until we’re closed and leave it for us anyway, thus sticking us with the dump fee and therefore taking away $20 from the community help coffer.

Just because a person is having a difficult time, don’t they still deserve dignity? If you were the person struggling to make ends meet, would you want something that is not usable? How would that help you? How would that add quality to your life? We need to think beyond ourselves.

My prayer for the New Year is that we see that poverty in America is not always a sign of laziness. I know families who were on top of the world. Cars, kids in private school, living large and now, due to a reduction in the availability of work, they are having to ask for assistance. Yes, I see abuses of a system. We will always see that. Unfortunately just like the person wanting to save $20 from their pocket and stick it to the church, there are those who want to scam the church out of $20 too. Humanity dictates to us that we treat each other with dignity. Let’s try it. This year, let’s realize that everyone deserves a measure of respect. You never know when you’ll need that kindness reciprocated.

Christians Are Canceling Christmas

It’s the oddest thing to me in the whole entire world. There are Christians wanting to cancel church on Christmas because it falls on a Sunday this year. You see, it will interfere with the gift exchange. It will interfere with the Christmas Eve hangover, it will interfere with the Christmas breakfast tradition. Canceling Christmas must be done! It’s inconvenient for MMMMMEEEEEE.

OH WAIT!!

It’s not Christmas we want to cancel. It’s the bride of Christ we want to cancel. We don’t want to gather corporately on a Sunday because of Christmas.

We want the commercial exchange without the holy interaction.

 

Okay, now it makes total sense! I get it! Push Jesus to the side so we can have our holiday.

Funny thing is that is exactly what the Pharisees did. Jesus came to save the world that was lost, but it was lost on them. They weren’t interested in a Messiah, they were interested in a tradition. Jesus’ timing has never been convenient. Nope, nothing convenient about it, but it was necessary.

Christianity started on the day Jesus arrived on the scene. We have decided to celebrate that moment on December 25. Only this year, it falls on a day we reserve for church service. So church service will have to wait because gifts are more important than the giver.

Maybe I will stand alone but I will be at church on Sunday morning, December 25, 2011 even if it is Christ’s Mass.