What’d You Get Me?

Jerry and I have most of our gift giving occasions between October – December.  That is the timeframe of both of our birthdays, our anniversary and of course Christmas.  The following post was written late in December several years ago, but the truth of it remains in my heart and mind–especially this Christmas day.
My husband and I have this game that we play around birthdays, Christmas or any other gift giving occasions.  It goes like this, “So what did you get me?”  Sometimes it’s said once in passing, sometimes it’s repeated over and over in rapid succession to try to wear the giver down to sharing some clue.  Yes, I know this sounds rather childish for two wellintomiddleagedadults to engage in, but I think it’s one of the casualties of not having children – we sometimes have to play that role in the family.
The morning of December 23 I was having a delightful quiet time with my Lord.  I finished my reading and my pondering, and was just about to put my pen down after recording the last word in my journal when I heard it . . .

“So what did you get me?”
 

I paused and listened to the voice
– but it wasn’t that of my husband.  It was my other beloved’s voice – Jesus!  As I tuned in to His voice I heard, “It’s my birthday soon you know, I’ve seen the gifts you’ve gotten for everyone else, what did you get for me?” 
When I shared this with my husband his response was “Isn’t that just like God to speak to us in our own game and language?”
For the remainder of that day, and the next several days I spent time pondering what I would give Jesus for his birthday. The better question was – had I even planned to give Him anything for his birthday?  If I hadn’t, why not?  And if I was, it was getting late, so I better decide quickly. 

What do you get the Lord of the Universe, who
owns everything and can create anything out of nothing?
The only response I could think of was “to obey is better than sacrifice.”  I think what Jesus was asking for was more of me. All of me in fact.  No need to spend time trying to figure out the hottest gift to give Him but to “just do it!”  To surrender myself and obey what He has already shown me. 
Funny several years later, I think this is still the gift He wants and the one I need to give.
So what about you? What are you giving to Jesus for His Birthday?

Does Easter Matter on Monday?

Holy Week was last week. Easter was yesterday. Today life returns to normal. Or does it?

passion-3111247_1920If the reality of Easter means anything it means change. The One who conquered death rose to new life. By doing so he changed the course of history, and each of our lives.

Maybe the details of daily life have not changed (schedules, care routines, appointments, responsibilities, etc.). But how I live and experience those minutes and hours each day better be impacted by the resurrection, or it was in vain.

Yes, there are still going to be mornings I don’t feel like getting up first to prepare for Jerry to get up. There will still be days when I just don’t want to pick up one more thing that has been dropped. Times of having our plans changed at the last minute because his body unexpectedly changed course will still happen.

If the message of Holy Week, culminating in Easter, means anything then I will whine less when waking early to serve my husband. I will smile when there is one more thing pexels-photo-424517.jpegto lift off the floor. I will exude grace when helping Jerry adjust to his body’s request and while calling the friends with whom we had plans.

This weekend I read Just Show Up by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn. I was struck by the way Kara (who was living through chemotherapy and then hospice care while writing this book with her friend), talked about “Big Love” and the “hards.” She endeavored to leave her family and friends knowing that even through the hard and difficult times of life we can share big love and make a difference. She knew she could only do that because of Christ in her.

share-2482016_1920Does your faith make a difference in your daily life? If it does would you share an example so we can all be encouraged? If you are not sure your faith does make a difference, don’t despair. We all hit those low points sometime. That’s the beauty of grace, you can start again right now. I’d love to hear your comments too – we want to keep it real here at Marriage Mondays!

 

 

I Left Him

Alone.

For one week.

In his back up wheelchair that is not retrofitted for him to drive his van. So now he is homebound too.

How could I leave him like that? He told me to. I offered to cancel my travel and stay home. He said no.

He knew I needed this time away. I knew he needed me to take him at his word that he would be ok. We both needed to trust God, and our wonderful circle of friends.

And they came through.

I left meals for him, friends also shared some meals.  My sister took care of household needs. Others stepped in to fill the gaps of morning and evening attendant care. A couple offered to drive him to church. Someone else walked uptown with him one night for dinner.

d56a9-img_3763Did we miss each other?  You better believe we did.  It’s healthy for us to remember that we each can make it on our own, even in challenging situations.  But even better is the reminder that we don’t want to make it on our own.  We truly are better together.

 

 

 

What about you?  What is your best tip for travel that does not include the whole family? Any lessons God has taught you in times of being apart?

 

 

 

What A Difference A Year Makes

Today has been a mostly ordinary day.  I helped Jerry get up.  I went to my part time job at the financial planners, and was able to confidently carry out my tasks with the knowledge I have gained there this year.  When my shift ended I attended a team meeting with my seeJesus Bethesda teammates in which we did some final planning for our upcoming fundraiser.  It is exciting to see the event and team come together.  Then I took a call from another seeJesus co-worker who shared a project that is just starting and asked if I would like to consider being involved with it.

As I pondered this request, as well as some other connections that came my way today I marveled at God’s goodness and grace.  You see, it was one year ago today, on this very rope-667319_1280date that Jerry and I got the first very clear information that life as we knew it was about to unravel.  We didn’t know the details, we didn’t know exactly how or when, but as the cliche says, the end was in sight.

To say November 2016 Started us on a tumultuous journey is an understatement.  But we’ve all been through our own kinds of floods, fires and trials.  You don’t need to hear the “down and dirty” from me.

What I do want you to hear is that our God is faithful!  Here we are at November 1, 2017 and we are growing in our new work and ministry roles, we have some exciting plans for our future, and we are stronger in our marriage than we’ve ever been.

Are we all the way through this rough spot?  Probably not – people tell us it will likely dance in and out of our lives for years to come.  But that’s ok – we are more snug in our cord of three, and that’s a knot I never want to undo!

Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV

Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.rope-970023_1280

Enhanced Benefit?

In my part time work in a financial planer’s office I sometimes hear phone conversations between  one of our customer service reps and fund companies.  One of the questions that still catches my attention is when our rep asks the vendor if the particular product they are discussing has “an enhanced death benefit?”

I  shake my head and smile.  I don’t know how the vendor replies, but my answer every time wihtout fail is YES!  I have an enhanced death benefit – and it is called Heaven with Jesus!

Occasionally when someone has asked how I was doing I would reply something to the effect of, “It’s been a hard day, but it beats the alternative.”  One day it struck me how absolutely untrue that statement is for those who know Jesus Christ, so I no longer answer that way.   The absolute best day of my life on this earth cannot begin to compare what I will experience upon entering the pearly gates and meeting my Savior and Lord face to face (or more likely face to feet as I fall on my face before Him!)

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The reason I love and follow Jesus though, is not just because I have “an enhanced death benefit.”  I also have an enhanced life benefit.  Yes,  Jesus took my sin (and yours) upon Him when He died, so I was no responsible to pay that penalty.  By rising from the dead, and giving me His Holy Spirit as a seal on my heart and life, He made His life and power available to me each and every moment.

While the question my co worker asks a vendor strikes me funny, it is totally appropriate in the context of the office.  What is really the silly sad reality is how often I, who know better, do not fully embrace the enhanced life benefits at my disposal.

. . . I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.  John 10:10b NASB

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If this post sounds like crazy talk to you, or has left you confused, please leave a comment.  I’d like to interact with you about this!

And Tonight’s Guest Is . . .

Less than 3 weeks ago we took hospitality and hosting to a new level when we started to share our guest room on Airbnb.  Our listing went live late on a Wednesday evening.  Living in a small borough we thought it would be weeks before we’d get a hit.  We were wrong.  Thursday afternoon we received our first reservation for four nights.  From that point on we have had steady traffic.  We have now hosted four guests over 12 nights and have two more guests booked this week.

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Eighteen days after opening our home, we have learned:

  • There is a greater demand for overnight accommodations in our little town than we would have ever guessed.
  • Travelers don’t make reservations too far in advance. Some requests come in for the very same day. None of our guests have reserved more than a week in advance.

Our first guests were a pleasant young couple from the Washington DC area.  They made a same day reservation.  While chatting after check in we learned the husband was from Bethlehem, “PA.”  Not Pennsylvania, but Palestine.  The irony was not lost on us that one of the first people we had room for was from a place where there was no room in the inn for Jesus.

Two gentlemen, while only booking short term rentals, were in need of transitional housing while they fulfill contracts with nearby businesses.  Both of these gentlemen were a pleasure to host and each asked if we would consider a long-term rental agreement with them (30 days or more).   They commented on how they visited other possible hosts and preferred our home.  We offer a private guest room with access to 1/3 of the closet. They share the bathroom with our long term tenant and friend, Scott.  Guests can make use of our kitchen and share the living room with us.  I am certain it is not the most spacious, or fanciest place they’ve stayed, yet they have stated they felt most comfortable here.

Jerry noted that some of our guests seem to have many more resources (financially) than we have, yet they are restless and searching.  We have less in the way of financial resources, but share joy and peace in our humble home. Our hope is that what guests are experiencing is the presence of the Spirit of God.

We started hosting for the income, it is an “easy” way to supplement our budget.  We have quickly learned that this type of hospitality is about so much more.  As we consider reservation requests, prepare the room, and engage with each person for who will occupy it, we pray for them.  Interacting with those who pass through our home is broadening our understanding of other cultures. We pray it has also planted a seed in their heart of the eternal home that can be theirs with Jesus.

Stay tuned and see how God continues to use this venture for His glory.

feedback.jpg                                                                                                                       Have you stayed in a host home or Airbnb while traveling?  If so we’ll love to hear your experiences.  Please comment below, or on Facebook, Twitter or wherever you are reading this.

Prayer – At What Cost?

Today I learned of a Christian ministry that expects each employee to spend 10% of their time in prayer.  In fact, they offer three corporate prayer times throughout the week because they put such a high value on prayer.

I was intrigued by this, particularly because it brought to mind another organization, one Jerry and I worked for many years ago.  When the job offers were made to us we were told that one of the reasons we were hired was because they realized they had strayed from their Christian roots and thought we could help them return.

Many Christians served in leadership and on the staff at this company, though not all employees were Christian.  Soon after employment, we asked the Executive Director praying-614374_1280about starting an optional prayer time for staff.  Those who wanted to pray together could join us on their lunch hour. The idea was approved. We were encouraged as the size of the group grew along with the intensity of the prayers.  We were seeing God answer some of our requests, which fueled the desire to continue praying together.

Several weeks into this journey we were told by the Executive Director that the prayer time had to stop.  When asked why, the response was, “it is costing us too much money.”  He was referring to wages of those who prayed when they could have been working.

Sadly our group disbanded, and it wasn’t long until we left that organization.

Isn’t it interesting to consider one company who finds it is too costly to pray, and another who finds it too costly not to pray?

The cost or value of prayer cannot be measured simply in dollars and cents.  How do I know?  Because too often I think I am just too busy to pray. How ridiculous is that to believe my plans are so much more important than talking and listening to my Creator, Lord and King?

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I am not at the place Martin Luther was when he said, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.”  I am slowly learning that when my schedule, “to do list,” and my heart are packed full it will be too costly not to pray.

feedback.jpgYOUR TURN:  What is something you do when you are trying to grow your prayer life?  When you are busy how do you make prayer a part of your day?