Day 18-Be Active in my life, Lord.

Here is the next installment of my Five Minute Free Writes Challenge.

The room was bustling with activity as the Food Pantry clients walked through the door hoping to get enough food to last the week. Every week they come earlier, the list grows longer but the Pantry does not open any earlier. So they wait, sometimes patiently, sometimes with the nervousness of a cornered possum.

The room was alive with clients picking the extra free items, volunteers cutting scrumptious cakes and other sweets. Crock pots of steaming soups were being brought out from the kitchen. One by one each family filled out the necessary paperwork and added their name to the ever growing list.

25 then 30 then 35 the list grows longer and longer and the food pantry hasn’t even opened yet. It’s a very typical active day at the food pantry.

Finally we had prayer time and the doors open. The first client is called, then the next and as we worked through the 40 waiting families some got tired of their long wait. Some acknowledge the wait is so long because they arrived more than an hour early. Some are so patient and kind offering words that lifted my spirit and then add a hug!! The kind words are like ice cream and their hugs are the topping! Meanwhile, more clients kept arriving to add their names to the ever growing list.

It’s my volunteer job to take care of the input, hunt down clients when it’s their turn and make sure everyone gets taken care of in a smooth, orderly fashion. When we have busy days, like this one in September, I occasionally need to be firm and ask those that don’t belong in the pantry area to please leave, they don’t always understand and I am the “mean one”. Their words cut like a knife and I am left to put on a happy face and continue my job.

I have had several challenging incidents, at the food pantry, lately and it has caused me to look within asking myself, “Is it them?, Lord, or is it me? Am I being difficult?” Honestly, I have been a little hard on myself. I have spent time seeking God, and His wisdom and understanding.

I was sharing with my husband, tonight, that God has both blessed me and also cursed me with a very tender heart. On one hand, I have a lot of empathy and compassion for others and on the other hand, my heart hurts with the actions of others.

I was losing my joy of serving, saddened to constantly hear one person tell others within my ear shot how mean I was. I know God’s opinion is what matters, I should let the words of others flow away from me like water off a duck’s back but I am human. I have a tender heart, also, I am an introvert so just being there, doing the job I do, is a challenge and all God. By the end of the day I am peopled out. LOL

So the only two activities I could think of, in the quiet hours this morning, to get back my joy were to pray and to search God’s Word for His truth. I begged God to give me wisdom and understanding in prayer and that led me to His Word. I was so desperate I wrote many verses on sticky notes, to take with me, so I would have them to shield the darts. Through God’s great grace, mercy and love no darts were thrown my way today-only love.

Today was a very different day. No harsh words. So many blessed me with compliments and hugs. Out of no where someone would come up and let me know how much I was appreciate and give me a hug. Many told me they could not do the job I do and do it with a smile. God was alive and active in the food pantry and all I can say is Thank You, Jesus.

In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. Psalm 18:6

If you would like to read more blogs in this series click here 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge They are written by my Five Minute Friday friends!

Day 17-Consistent for me.

Here is the next installment of my Five Minute Free Writes Challenge.

A few days ago I shared that I write for one, to reach one and that is true. But I am also writing in this 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes to gain consistency with my writing. To write everyday with out fail. Even when I don’t feel like it. Even if it’s boring and makes sense only to me.

Some of my writing, these last 17 days, has been light and airy, just my thoughts written down and some has been really hard to write. Those posts were not my idea, for sure. Sometimes the word for the day has me staring at the keys for an idea. Other days the word for the next day rolls around my head and I have no idea what to write. This was the case with the word “other” I went to bed, tossed and turned and could not sleep. I got up, sat at my IPad and the words just flowed. Pushing publish, with that one, was an act of obedience.

We all have the list of words, could write in advance and schedule the posts or do like I do, write each day. I thought about pre-writing and scheduling my posts but that would completely sabotage why I am participating in this challenge. To write every day for 31 days on the words provided.

Once I get consistent with act of writing then I will work on the content. Become consistent with a theme. Hone my writing skills and everything that is involved with writing words others will want to read.

For now it’s all about consistency and once in a while the Holy Spirit gives me the words to write and they will reach someone that needs to read them. That is the blessing I have received during this challenge. Half way through and I have stayed consistent.

If you would like to read more blogs in this series click here 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge They are written by my Five Minute Friday friends!

Day 16-Avoiding words.

Here is the next installment of my Five Minute Free Writes Challenge.

Remind them of this, and charge them before the Lord to avoid disputing about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2: 14-15(ESV)

Sometimes it can be such a challenge to avoid disputes with words. My flesh can get the best of me. Several instances recently have me seeking God and asking Him to guide my words and actions. I would rather be right with God instead of right with the world.

There is a delicate balance between speaking truth, in love, and biting my tongue because the words I want to speak, even though spoken in truth, are not spoken in love and are better off not said. I don’t need to fight my battles, God will fight them for me and fight them better than I ever could.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it iswritten, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” Romans 12:19(ESV)
Yet, there are other times it’s impossible to avoid conflict. If I see an injustice, someone causing another discomfort, I HAVE to speak up and protect them. I failed at this, in my past, and a very special person in my life has been forever scarred. I won’t allow that to happen again. It’s times like these that I realize the person I am speaking to may never completely accept responsibility for their actions BUT I will know I spoke truth into them. Once that is done I simply need to let go and let God handle the situation as only He can.

Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
and he loves him who speaks what is right. Proverbs 16:13 (ESV)

If you would like to read more blogs in this series click here 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge They are written by my Five Minute Friday friends!

 

Day 15-Forced to be open….

Here is the next installment of my Five Minute Free Writes Challenge.

I was never one who was open to change. I lived in the same home, my entire childhood, in fact, my parents didn’t sell my childhood home until I was out of the house for 19 years. At the age of 63 I can count on both hands, with fingers left over, the number places I’ve lived in my life and on one hand the number of jobs I’ve had.

My husband is a biker  and introduced me to long distance motorcycle trips. Living in a very urban part of NJ we took every opportunity to jump on the bike and put some miles on it. If we weren’t working we were riding. Each summer we took trips from NJ to the Ozark Mts. I loved getting away and hated coming home. I loved my job but I hated living in the city specially after 9/11.

August 2004 we did our usual summer trip to the Ozarks-about 3000 miles round trip with near perfect weather. The Sunday after we got home we decided to take a ride to a friends church-the Pastor is a biker and preaches the Word of God with amazing passion. We were about 2 1/2 miles from home  and had just passed through the NJ Turnpike toll booth. We entered the ramp leading to the next highway when I looked up and all I remember seeing was a red car hood and saying “God help us”. The next thing I remember is hearing this horrendous groaning and then realizing it was coming from me. The car with the red hood was driven by someone who thought the best way to get to the toll was to pass four cars, crossing the double yellow line on an uphill blind curve. I landed in the middle of the lane for the oncoming traffic. Thankfully, the on coming traffic saw what was about to happen and stopped or I would have been killed by the secondary hit.

Witnesses said it looked like I was caught and laid down on the pavement-for a long time I resentfully wished my angel had  dropped me a little softer so I would have avoided all my injuries, some of which I still deal with today. I know now God had plans for me and my injuries. Today I am thankful for our accident. While I was lying on the ground I distinctly heard, in my spirit, a voice saying, “it’s going to be a long haul but you are going to be ok.” After that I had an odd sense of peace that can only come from God.

I was a very self sufficient woman, who had lived in the same city a long time, worked at the same job for 15 years suddenly had to depend on others to take care of me. My husband was injured too so we went from two good salaries to hoping to get temporary disability. For the first time in many years, I was not earning a living. We both needed surgeries and physical therapy. Borrowing money to meet our daily expenses. The man that hit us had very minimal insurance and no  assets so we didn’t recover very much. Did I mention that financial stability was the biggest strong hold the enemy had on me?  I had to have major back surgery in March 2005. I couldn’t go back to work permanently.

One morning, not long after my back surgery, my husband came to me and said, “You will never guess what we are supposed to do!” I answered him, “Move to the Ozarks?” God had given us both the same dream that night. The next night my husband couldn’t sleep so he went on the Internet to check out properties and one kept coming up. Unbelievably, the next day a realator showed up on our doorstep and said “I know your building is not for sale but I have an interested buyer.” We owned a four family building. There were lots of things that should not have fallen into place but we kept saying “if it’s God’s will, it will happen” and happen it did! We now live in the Ozarks in that home that kept coming up and can not imagine living anywhere else. It’s our corner of paradise.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths

For the first time we were truly living these words-trusting in Him, not relying on what the world would say what we should be doing, praised Him every step of the way and He made our path straight.

I believe that God does not cause tragedy in our lives but like the Book of Job illustrates He allows it. I never would have been open to the changes that took place in our lives had we not had our life changing accident. The accident helped me break loose of some strongholds, caused me to trust God on a deeper level and realize the enemy could take away my mobility but not my ability to serve God. I could pray anywhere and anytime.

The enemy tried to derail my life but instead he caused my relationship with Jesus to grow strong. My heart is now open to what God has planned for me and for His calling on my life. I know I use Genesis 50:20 a lot but truth be told the enemy has worked time and again to stop me from serving God and every time the exact opposite has happened-a deeper desire to know Him and serve Him.

If you would like to read more blogs in this series click here 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge They are written by my Five Minute Friday friends!

 

 

 

 

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Day 14-Finding my voice.

Here is the next installment of my Five Minute Free Writes Challenge.

I grew up in a family of seven children and, at times, being the middle child, I often felt invisible and unseen. Sometimes conversations were so busy and loud I needed to raise my voice and butt in, in order to be heard. This does not create good listening habits.

I have to work really hard at not butting in or finishing someones sentences. I don’t like it at all when others do it to me so I am making a concerted effort to stop, listen and not interrupt. I have to be honest…..it’s really hard. I want my voice heard but I also want to respect and hear what the other person has to say.

Interrupting shows I do not respect your voice.

Interrupting shows I think my voice is more important.

I don’t want to do either of these things. I want to value and respect the words and opinions of others. I don’t want to assume I know how they intend to end their sentences. So I have been trying to make a better effort at listening, waiting to respond and put more value in what others have to say.

Yet, I also want my voice heard too. To be treated with the same respect I am giving the person I am listening to. I know if more people really listened to others, specially others with differing opinions, we might have more peace in our country. People no longer listen to understand rather they are forming their answers without ever really listening to the words being spoken. Misunderstandings happen when we don’t listen or respect their voice. Words get thrown about, feelings get hurt, anger wells and all because they did not take time to listen.

I can have my voice and listen too. I can respect another person even if our opinions vary. It’s not my way or no way-the sad truth about many people today. They are so focused on being right they fail to listen and realize they just might not be right. No longer do people agree to disagree. They want their voice heard and only their voice. We can all have a voice, our voice and still live in peace with each other.

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:5 (ESV)

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind. 1 Peter 3:8

If you would like to read more blogs in this series click here 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge They are written by my Five Minute Friday friends!

Day 13-Just for one.

Here is the next installment of my Five Minute Free Writes Challenge.

What is your reach? How may followers on FB….Twitter…..Instagram??

I have to be honest, I would like my words to reach more and for one day to have a book that will impact many. But my reach is not the driving force behind my writing. In truth, I am writing for one, to reach one.

I write out of obedience to God, He is the one I write for. The truth of my past combined with the truth of His word. His truth has set me free and will set others free.

I write to reach one. Why? Because I was once lost and through God’s grace, mercy and love I have been found. I once needed to hear how another person was lost and was found through God’s grace, mercy and love. I am very grateful that others were obedient to God and shared their stories so I could be set free.

I know, I know, my story is not unique. Others have walked through feeling rejected, unloved, bad choices, guilt, remorse, abuse and being abused. What makes my experiences special are how God met me in the mists of my mess. Some one out there needs to be met in the middle of their mess, just like i was met in my mess and my mess may sound a lot like their mess. If God could turn my mess into a message He can do that for them too. Sharing my mess and message will give one the hope they need just like when others shared their message I gain hope for things I have yet to long for.

He reached from on high, he took me,
    he drew me out of many waters.

He delivered me from my strong enemy,
    and from those who hated me;
    for they were too mighty for me. Psalm 18: 16-17(ESV)

Through the words of others and His words God transformed my life. I strive to reach that one person with my words and His words to let that one person know that there is nothing they have done that God can’t redeem. No sin so bad that God can not cover with the blood of Jesus. No guilt or remorse so deep that God can not heal.

O taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Happy is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34:8(ESV)

My refuge is in Jesus. He left the other 99 to reach the me and I will too.

If you would like to read more blogs in this series click here 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge They are written by my Five Minute Friday friends!

Day 12-Surrendering to obedience.

Here is the next installment of my Five Minute Free Writes Challenge.

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere love of the brethren, love one another earnestly from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22

For the first time in my life I have been writing about deep things from my past, things the enemy wanted to use to keep me in chains but God has wanted to use for His glory. I have felt this call to write for a long time but have been paralyzed over thinking what others might think if they knew my past. Sure, a lot of my blogs, in this series, have been light but little by little I have begun writing about things I’ve never shared. As I have been opening up and writing what I know I have been called to write about I have realized not writing about these things has been an act of disobedience. I don’t want to live my life in disobedience. If I received nothing through my obedience it would not matter. I want to be right with God not the world.

The truth is what I have already received from God since I have stepped into obedience has been huge. The blog I wrote about my past last Saturday came after tossing and turning for hours, getting up and writing that blog, pressing publish and then laying down and falling into a deep, restful sleep. I realize now that partial obedience is still disobedience. God didn’t call me to write but to write about my truth and God’s healing hand in my life.

I can’t explain the freedom I have felt, this past week.

There is freedom in obedience.

For the first time I feel free. No longer stressing over what others will think. No longer chained by fear. My prayer is that one person would be blessed by my words. God has taken my past and brought me healing. Sharing my past and what God has done will bring healing to others.

Just like Joseph, after his brothers sold him into slavery, we have no idea why we go through the hard times we do. Yeah sure, sometimes we make poor choices and live with the consequences but there are times the things we go through are because of the wrong choice of others. We live through the ripple affect of the choices of others. I wish I could say I was like Joseph, as I went through my past struggles and trusted God in the process. Sadly, I wasn’t. I didn’t see the purpose of the suffering. I am getting much better at trusting God through the process.

Many, many years later when Joseph’s brothers realized their brother, who they sold into slavery, was not only alive but a very powerful man they were filled with guilt, remorse, and lots of fear. Jospeh, however, realized everything he went through had a purpose and God used him to save many, many lives.

Joseph tells his frightened bothers not to worry, he forgave them. He said:

As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Genesis 50:20 (ESV)

It is my hope and prayer that as I share my past and how God has healed my past that others will be healed to. May God be glorified in all I do, write and say.

If you would like to read more blogs in this series click here 31 Days of Five Minute Free Writes Challenge They are written by my Five Minute Friday friends!