Wordless Wednesday….think about your path….
Wordless Wednesday….think about your path….
Friday Five (on Tuesday!): 5 Tips for Ministering to the Homeless.
Doing a homeless ministry was something I never imagined myself doing. I didn’t feel a special calling, and I suspected I lacked the appropriate skill set. But when a friend invited me to go with her to a local park one summer, I went along – to keep her from going alone. Imagine my surprise when the one who got the most out of the experience was *me.*
We parked near a picnic shelter where ten or twelve people hung out every day. They sat playing cards, talking, and one even had two dogs with him. We put our heads together and prayed just before our feet hit the concrete of the picnic area. My plan would’ve been to get to know them a little, break the ice as it were. Maybe the ministry part would come later.
My friend, though, jumped right in. “Does anybody here need Jesus?” she asked. Within minutes, we were praying the sinner’s prayer with two people, and a third was professing her need to rededicate. I stood back and watched in awe. God is so awesome!
If you’re thinking of undertaking a homeless ministry, or if you find that God has thrust you into one, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way.
I still don’t feel like a homeless ministry is my forte. But I’ve learned a valuable lesson: there is no “us” and “them.” The people I’ve met are simply down on their luck, but they are parents, grandparents, pet owners, card players, art lovers, and just plain people. They have hopes and dreams and successes and failures. And Jesus loves them as much as He does you or me.
Photo Courtesy Garry Knight/cc/flickr
I was talking to my 30-year-old daughter a few months back about 2 habits I always made sure I kept doing. One is putting on makeup before going out. That one is probably not so important, but it is ingrained so I don’t know at this point if I could give it up or not (I said). I’m Southern, plus it goes way back to a beauty pageant, one of the Miss America prelims (yes, really) when we were told never go out without your face in place.
I’m good at following the rules, so I always put my face on. I mean, everybody else did too. We’re Southern. This is probably not so important here in South Florida, which is not the South but is, perhaps, a suburb of New Jersey, and where (1) it is hot and humid and (2) nobody else wears any and (3) did I mention hot? And Humid?
So – a couple weeks after our talk, I decided to quit wearing makeup. By “makeup” I mean foundation and / or powder. Not even Bare Minerals – have you ever actually seen what Bare Minerals looks like with a few drops of sweat running through it? Sort of like a sandy riverbed. Not pretty!
Besides the heat, my shoulder has been frozen all of 2016. Which means I can’t move my left (dominant) arm. I finally gave in and started taking pain pills the week they told me it was not frozen, but rather torn all the way through. Multiple tears on multiple muscles. The point of this is the pain pills make me sweat, as in hair-dripping-down-my-back sweat.
So I quit wearing makeup.
It was freeing; after all, I never wanted to bother with that stuff. It was the people who said things like “you need to put your best face forward,” “you look soooo much better without it,” and so on. Superficial. I let go. (I also will probably save a bunch of money. Some months the bill for that stuff has been over $300).
It would be a great segue here to discuss why we teach our daughters that kind of rule, but perhaps I’ll save that one for another day.
Anyway. Enough about that. The other habit I like to keep in my routine is making the bed first thing in the morning. Not first-first, but somewhere in the getting dressed part of my day. Making the bed causes your room to look instantly cleaned up. It is a big part of the room, so if it isn’t made the bedroom will feel messy no matter what is going on around it. Plus, making the bed usually leads to more household chores like doing laundry or picking up the puppy’s toys. Anything that pushes me toward chores is a good thing. So I like to keep my bed made. Except…my shoulder froze. I still made the bed, some, but then they told me it (the shoulder, not the bed) was torn. I quit making the bed in case it injured my shoulder more.
Now I am totally out of must-have routines. There’s nothing like a little pain to show you what matters. Makeup? No more. Fix my hair? Fuggedaboutit. I can’t reach it. The bed? Well, Mighty Man mentioned how he likes it made, and I explained that it takes about 15 minutes now, as I have to go from side to side dragging things with one arm. [Actually I might have said two hours…] So now he does it. So sweet!
Now that the musts are gone and a lot of the ha ve-tos are being ignored, I’m free to completely re-design my routines. I have to have some, otherwise chaos abounds. So I’m going to put a lot of thought into it and share it with you here on the blog. To follow these posts, use the category or tag Home Organization.
Photos Courtesy Someecards and Original-Cards
I recently ran across this blog which offers a 52-week challenge for organizing your home.
“You cannot expect to get your home completely organized over night [sic], even though that would be wonderful. It just won’t realistically happen for most of us because we have too many areas in our homes that we need to address,” it reads.
On the other hand, we have The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. This book is so popular that people refer to decluttering as “Kondoing,” a play on the author’s last name.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Kondo claims that we don’t need to take an entire year to de-clutter our homes (I breathed a sigh of relief! Really, my counters are cluttered again after a day—a year would kill me!). She says that if we follow her method of decluttering, and believe me it is drastic; we would never have to do it again. Imagine never going to the store for more storage containers, boxes, and sweater bins.
Usually my declutter lasts about one afternoon, and looks like this:
You will notice that I’ve read the book. Twice, in fact. You will also notice that I am here telling you what ‘she says,’ not ‘what worked for me.’
Yeah. There’s a reason for that.
It’s because I’m still trying to figure it out: Is it better to declutter over a short span of time, like two weeks, or over an entire year?
I’m a third-generation hoarder married to a 30+year antiques dealer, so we know clutter – intimately. Hubby says neither of us knows how to put our toys away.
Sadly, he is right, at least about me. I craft, paint, groom my own dogs, and write books, leaving all my related tools/parts/scraps/stacks wherever I was working last. Recently I had to set up a 6-foot table beside my desk because my desk is too cluttered to write.
Hanging my head in shame.
Then I remember the two parts of the Life Changing Magic book that I did implement. One was to place a small box near my purse hang-out (for me that is the back of the walk-in closet) and empty the contents of your purse, using the box for your ‘have-to’ items. You can put away the lipstick, toss receipts, and store loose change. This gives you an empty purse to put away, and makes choosing one so much easier the next morning –grab the contents of the box, dump them in, and you’re ready to go. Well. With a lipstick and a car key.
Suddenly, I change purses all the time. And they look so orderly there in the back of the closet. None of them fall off the shelf from the weight of mystery items inside. I don’t carry around 5 pounds of stuff I don’t need. I feel…organized.
The other change was the way she folds and stores clothing in dresser drawers. Rather than folding more or less in half and stacking them, Kondo suggests folding shirts (for example) into thirds, then into a little package and stacking them endwise. The drawer holds way more shirts that way, and you can see what you’ve got without digging around wrinkling them. I did that, and loved it… and changed around another drawer, then another…
Courtney Carver, who I have followed online for a long time, says there is no such thing as overnight decluttering. I participated in her Project 333 (you choose 33 items of clothing for the current season and put away the rest; presumably you’ll decide you don’t actually need the rest). It really worked, and 33 items were plenty for my lifestyle, as long as I kept as much jewelry as I wanted. But I gained and gained and gained weight since then – so now my closet bulges with sizes from 8 on the left, to 10 and 12 in the center, up to size, yep you guessed it, 16. Booo!
I guess I could redo the Project 333, but honestly the closet door can be closed, and there’s clutter everywhere else…
So what do you think? Declutter fast or declutter slowly?
Some time back I searched through a number of Christian blogs. I was looking for a tiny bit of encouragement, a message of hope, or an uplifting post. What I found was eleventy thousand posts all dealing with the negative and the hardships and the trouble with life.
[Yes it’s a real number, and it’s mine.]
When we have holes in our spiritual life, they are not necessarily filled by focusing on the bad, by reworking and reliving and re-discussing the negative situations we encounter daily. We can’t fill those holes by dwelling on them.
Just like a hole in the side of a boat, the holes in our spiritual cloth must not be left open; if they are, the good that is inside will leak out and the dirty water that is outside will leak in. Instead, they need to be plugged with a different substance. Sometimes they are filled by hearing a positive message. Often they are filled by other people.
Those holes in our spiritual life represent our neediness. We need/want to be accepted. We want to feel loved. We want to believe we are worthy. We want to know for sure that we are forgiven.
I remember a friend observing someone….she said, “He has a hole in his heart that needs to be filled with the love of God.”
She was right.
Often we go to others to get these needs filled, and something different happens. We think we will get help. We think that our community holds the answers, they are more mature, or they have a higher position, or they’re older so they know better.
Instead of helping us patch the holes they drag us down. And we would have known this would happen, had we read our Bibles:
Isaiah 14:10 They will all respond,
they will say to you,
“You also have become weak, as we are;
you have become like us.”
“But wait!” You cry, “I didn’t want to become like them! I’m not supposed to.”
You would be right. Because you have that hole in the boat, and you decided to repair it using rotten wood and a toy hammer–your friends– instead of the grind and patch process, now you’re part of a different community. In this community, everybody’s boat is on dry land. It’s like a sea of boats except they’re not on the sea; they’re all laying side-by-side in a vast field of brokenness.
“All I wanted was to feel loved,” you say, feeling hopelessly off course and off kilter.
Ah, but it’s the way you went about it that was wrong. It’s the way we all go about it that moves us so far from True North.
C.S. Lewis said, “We do not want to merely “see” beauty–though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words–to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.”
We want to belong.
That’s the crux of the matter.
It is why we reach out, over and over, to the wrong places in the wrong people. It’s why we can’t stop trying, even when we say we are going to. How many times do we say “Never again will I—“
We are compelled to keep reaching.
When your heart is only half full, it is easy to reach in the wrong direction. It is only when we see dirty water leaking into the boat that we realize what we’ve done. It wasn’t helpful, but detrimental. It wasn’t quenching your thirst, instead it left you begging for more. And when left alone, that heart will not fill up by itself. Next time, drink water straight from the source:
John 7:37,38 “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (MSG)
Rivers. Of living water.
Rivers that brim
And spill from your depths, my depths
Imagine the beauty, the fulfilment of brimming with the Holy Spirit until we spill over.
Sounds like there are no more holes, doesn’t it?
Thank you, God!
I am currently working (slowly) through the book The Creative Call by Janice Elseheimer, shown here.
It’s really written–I think– more for people who are younger [than me] and deciding whether to follow a creative path or take the more practical road. I’m doing it simply because I love books, and especially love reading literature that is related to using our gifts and talents.
So it surprised me when the ‘homework’ said to think deeply on your past and write down limitations that came from another person.
I was even more surprised when I actually did it.
Because what happened was that voice, the voice of another girl in my class at school a hundred years ago, echoed as if she were standing right here. The years fell away and I had that same knot in my stomach, the same shortness of breath accompanied by tense, rounded shoulders and the cringing, shameful feeling of I’m not good enough.
I can’t go into the particulars or I will out the perp, so I have to jump over the specific things that were said. They hurt me to the core. They were multiple assaults. The person in question is one of those people you suppose “has it all,” so I’m not sure why she said the things she did.
My mother probably told me, “she’s just jealous.”
Yet what she said is still echoing in my head…. and we are about to have our 35th class reunion.
Good student that I am, I ruminated on the voice, the words, the results for a good 24 hours. Yes, I have limited myself in that particular art because of that person. I have skipped chances that would have driven me to the top, and given self-talk that would make your hair stand on end.
And yet God made me good enough.
He made me exactly the way He wanted me to be. And I think when He creates us, He expects us to use the talents He gave us. Instead I have spent a lifetime hiding mine under the proverbial bushel, fighting it, struggling with it, and asking Him why in the world He gave me this talent that hangs like an albatross around my neck.
A talent I love, and at the same time I despise.
It weighs me down, I tell Him.
That’s not what weighs you; look again, He urges.
Sure enough, it’s the words, the mean hateful youaren’tgoodenough words, that’s what weighs me down. THAT is the albatross around my neck.
I tried to think on the words and feel the hurt and throw it all out the window. Forward, forward; we always need to go forward and not back. Then I realized I didn’t know what forward really looked like. So, like any intelligent soul, I went to Facebook. (Hah!)
Have you ever thought deeply on your past and realized you limited yourself for years because of what someone else said? How did you come to terms with it?
When someone hurts you, it’s important to feel it, not stuff it, *says the Queen of Stuffingit.
Be sure to put it into perspective. If you stuff it and don’t think about perspective, the hurtful words grow. They become like a twisting, fire breathing dragon up over you when in fact maybe the person is a little shorter than you and the words are just small, momentary bits that go into the air and dissipate.
Yes, dissipate! Poof, there they go! Words weren’t meant to linger in your brain hurting you forever.
Remember too, wherever that person was in life at that moment probably also contained insecurity. She was having a bad day, or her cat died, or she was insanely jealous because your mother let you do whatever you wanted and her mother was really strict.
Yes that’s a babified example; I was in high school, remember?
And this: She wanted to put you down? So what?
So what works really well for me. Bad Tanya, the one on my shoulder, wants me to start saying it aloud. Good Tanya says nuh-uh. Bad Tanya says Maybe if I see her at the reunion I’ll say SO WHAT?
Of course. There are several Bible verses for moving on/ moving forward:
Isaiah 43:18 Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
2 Corinthians 5:17 The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! (MSG)
Philippians 3:12-14 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running,and I’m not turning back. (MSG)
Job 17:9 The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.
Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (ESV)
And of course, stay in your Bible:
Joshua 1:8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Romans 10:17 “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Psalm 119:110 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
(Verses from the NIV, unless otherwise noted.)
I truly feel better already. Knowing that I am made in His likeness, that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and that God’s Word lives in me–that’s exciting. Reading His Word is exciting. Feeling empowered by His Word–that’s exciting.
If you’ve had an experience like this one, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I have a cockatiel that loves to whistle the song “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands.” He of course, can’t clap his hands claws, so he clicks with his tongue. He likes that song so much he tangles it into most of the other things he whistles. As a result of hearing it 14 hours a day, I sing it a lot too. Sometimes I even clap.
I wonder how our lives would be different if we continually sang such a song? It could be out loud, or simply in our heads. It doesn’t have to be a child’s verse. It can be your own creation. It could be a hymn or praise song, or just a mantra. Something to reflect the deep joy of being alive, being God’s creation…just being. We are promised:
1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
True joy floods the soul. It overwhelms with a sense of comfort, of well-being, of love.
One reason we don’t feel that joy continually is that we don’t slow down. We’re overstimulated, bombarded with noise and offers and things that want to pull us in every direction all day, every day. Because of that, we are in such a hurried, harried state of mind that we miss the joy. What a tragedy!
Here are some ways to be sure you experience the joy:
Savor the existence of the Father. Slow down to feel His presence, to appreciate His intervention.
“Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” Isaiah 30:21
Who else but us has this awesome private GPS signal?
Savor the blessings. “What?” you ask, startled. As if there isn’t a blessing.
You’ve probably been so buried in work and home and church and life that you forgot about blessings altogether.
If one doesn’t come to mind immediately, try simply loving the moment. Spend today, just a day, loving your tiny patch of the world, with all its warts and turmoil and chaos and stuff. No, the world isn’t perfect. Yes, you wish your daughter wasn’t such a drama queen. You don’t understand why your friend talks behind your back, nor why your husband insists on being so loud.
But all in all, the world is a pretty good place and you are blessed.
Be the Optimist. You know that gal who’s always positive, who always sees the blessing in a situation? Be her.
To an optimist, obstacles are challenges. Waiting is God’s way of making you grow. She never sees loss as failure, but as a chance to change, and she opens her eyes for the next blessing headed her way.
People who think this way see life as full of opportunities. They tune in to God in order to see what awesome adventure is coming next. Their upbeat attitude is contagious.
You see, even non-Christians know that deep joy can’t happen until you are able to slow down, to embrace, to radically experience it. Sometimes the smallest things can bring great joy. Pause and allow yourself to encounter joy today.
Need More? Try the Get Closer to God ecourse.
I confess. I’ve submersed myself in art and creativity this week, to the exclusion of almost everything else.
While doing that, my mental wheels were turning as I began to plan the second book of my “One Step Closer” series. (The first ebook is here.) I actually got a lot of physical work done while the mental work went on.
I made wreaths. Ordered more wreath supplies. (click to enlarge photos)
Large Burlap and Blue Beach Wreath
Worked on my latest painting:
Doesn’t it look a ton better with that road gray instead of pink?
And started a beaded necklace with a stone cabochon as the focal, which I blogged about here.
What do you do when the creative muse strikes?
I’ve been thinking on this blog for months. Actually not just the blog, but the entire website. Does it meet its purpose? Why am I feeling like it’s a weight around my neck lately? Am I burned out? Should I stop writing?
My focus over the past few years has been narrow. I did it that way on purpose. But now I have the God>I website to handle the “narrow focus” part, plus I’m feeling rather squished in this box, the one I put myself in.
You see, I secretly have desired to expand into more lifestyle-oriented topics, yet I want to honor who I am as a child of God. Is that possible?
Well, of course it is, I decided; after all we struggle and think on and marinate in all our daily “stuff.” Things like, should I switch churches? Should I send my child to Christian school? Do I really act as a wife/mother/teacher ought to act? What do other people do when X does XYZ?
And I would like to share my wreaths, handmade jewelry, and *maybe even* my paintings-in-progress with you. And yes, recipes. But I’ve felt that I shouldn’t, in order to be true to the ‘purpose’ of the blog.
Then there’s my voice. I talk to you like I speak in person, but I’d really like to talk to you like I think. Like I speak to myself in my head. The silliness, the fun jokes I don’t ever share; I see humor almost everywhere. Really. You didn’t know that, did you?
You thought I was some serious Jesus freak. You were both right, and wrong.
So friends, we’re gonna fix this thang.
Starting now, we are going to embark on a new adventure. First, I am melding the website and blog into one. It has a new look. (Do you like it? I wanted something reaaaally girly) And I’m going to talk about the mundane things of life, the things that affect us whether we are Christians or not, whether we are thinking Christlike thoughts in that moment or not, and whether we are doing the right thing.
I might even share a recipe or two.
I believe this will enable us to have dialogs that are more real, more honest, and probably deeper than we could in the past. I hope this doesn’t offend my 2,000+ followers. I truly believe it will be for the better — but I know we humans hate change.
Let me know what you think.