A Good Friend is Dying

sunset
A good friend is dying;
My heart cries inside.
My good friend is dying;
I can’t say good-bye.

I should pick up the phone;
I can’t seem to call.
Memories come to me;
I remember it all.

The advice, the love,
The hugs galore.
She watched my baby;
She swept my floor.

She picked me up
When I was down.
She held me and prayed;
Her advice was sound.

She told me of God;
She pointed to truth.
Her faith is solid;
Even under her roof.

My husband does death;
He’s good at his job.
My husband does death;
He won’t break and sob.

But I sit in my home
Contemplating my friend.
Knowing she’ll be better,
I don’t want it to end.

She left an example;
She passed on her beliefs.
Her life will keep living;
Through her disciples—like me.

I rejoice with the Lord;
I rejoice with my Savior.
He’ll soon receive a saint,
One who has found favor.

Thank you for my friend.
Thank you for my mentor.
When I recall her life,
I’m reminded . . .
You’re the Center.

Longing for More – Part 2

Don and David praying

The following is a reprint of an article I wrote for SEEK. The original publication date is May 6, 2012. Click here for Part 1.

Offer the Bread of Life to Others

Perhaps your life, like mine, seems mundane and ordinary. Maybe you are asking: How can I offer the Bread of Life to others?

Begin in the home. Offer a kind word and a listening ear to your spouse. Nurture your children’s souls while nourishing their physical bodies. Have supper as a family around the dining room table. While you eat, read a word of Scripture, say a short prayer, ask each person about his/her day.

Develop personal relationships. I purposefully befriended a woman having marital problems. She needed someone to whom she could reveal the intimate details of her life. I listened to her, cried with her, and prayed for her as I gently led her to the foot of the cross.

Open your home. Jesus admonishes, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16) You may be thinking: I don’t know how to cook. My house is a mess. I don’t have time. I have recited these excuses. But once I decided relationships were more important than appearances and invited others to break bread in our home, I found my guests relaxed as they realized I do not keep a perfect house, do not have perfect children, and cannot make a gourmet meal. This genuine environment created a calming effect.

These small gestures are only a few examples of how we can introduce Christ to the world. As you cultivate a relationship with Him through daily disciplines of Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship with other believers, God will open your eyes to opportunities for ministering. He will use your gifts to glorify Himself. I pray as I rise in the morning, “Lord, less of me and more of You. Lord, Your agenda, not mine.” I am far from perfect, but as God molds me into His image, He directs my path and shines His light through me. As I help others, Jesus restores me. As I lift my eyes from my own circumstances and see others as Jesus does, He changes me.

I pray that as you help others, Jesus will restore and mold you. May your story be more like these:  Longing for Mr. Right, a teenage girl attends a worship service. Recently demoted, a husband calls his pastor. Tired of her seemingly pointless life, a stay-at-home mom volunteers at the local crisis pregnancy center. Defeated, a divorced man falls to his knees. Lonely, a single mother reaches for her Bible. Each longs for a more satisfying life and realizes only God can bridge the gap between here and there.

 

Longing for More – Part 1

longing for a better car

The following is a reprint of an article I wrote for SEEK. The original publication date is May 6, 2012. Part 2 will post next week.

Longing for Mr. Right, a teenage girl caves in to her boyfriend’s unrelenting requests. Recently demoted, a husband finds a pornographic website. Tired of her seemingly pointless life, a stay-at-home mom heads to bed. Defeated, a divorced man steps into the bar. Lonely, a single mother reaches into the freezer for the half-gallon of Rocky Road. Each desires to drown the sorrow. Each wishes to escape reality. Each believes there is more to life, but cannot bridge the gap between here and there.

A crowd gathered around Jesus longing for more. They, too, knew life without meaning wasn’t life at all. A spark of hope ignited as they watched Jesus distribute food to over 5000 hungry people. They witnessed a miracle. And they thought they had found it—the answer to their dilemmas, the solution to their problems—an unending supply of food for their stomachs and rest for their souls.

The next day the crowd tracked Jesus down. They sought Him not because of who He was, but for what He could provide.  However, Jesus saw the shallowness of their journey. He knew their purpose—to obtain another meal, a quick fix. They wanted a tangible, albeit temporary, physical satisfaction—a full belly. But, they missed the point. Their focus was off. Instead of looking at Jesus, they only saw the food He provided.

Have you found yourself caught in a whirlwind of bad choices? Have you wallowed in self-pity and turmoil to the point of destruction? Are you seeking fulfillment in sex, alcohol, drugs, shopping, sleep or food? If so, you are not alone.

Many evenings, I found myself devouring another bowl of ice cream, hoping to satisfy the empty pit I felt. But instead the sensation still existed with guilt heaped on top. Just like the crowd, I turned my focus toward a temporary solution. And while food may relieve the pain momentarily, it will not feed the ultimate problem. The purpose of food is to sustain life and provide fuel for our bodies. But it will not fill the emptiness in our souls. It will not relieve the longing we have to be loved and accepted unconditionally. Jesus warned, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (John 6:27)

When we recognize our worth and value cannot be found at the bottom of an ice cream container, at the end of a long nap, or in a closet full of clothes, we like David can cry, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)

And Jesus’ response to our cry? “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35) Do not look at what Jesus can give you or do for you, but to Jesus Himself. As bread swells in our stomachs and relieves our hunger pangs, the Bread of Life seeps into our inner beings and seals our spiritual gaps. He speaks to our worries, doubts, and fears. When we allow these truths to cleanse our souls and wash away our aches and pains, we will find peace. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we will encounter joy.

I can’t say I no longer seek comfort in the arms of a bowl of ice cream; however, as God draws me closer to Him, I slowly understand that His arms are far reaching and unending—His love covers all and triumphs over all. It is from this place, in His embrace, I can minister to others. It is from this place, enveloped in His grace and mercy, His life overflows from my heart to others. It is from this place, lavished with love, I can offer the Bread of Life to a hurting world.

Housekeeping:  As you read this I am sailing on a Carnival cruise in the Western Caribbean, so do not be offended if I don’t respond to your comment in a timely manner.

10 Must-Haves for Travel

packed suitcase

When packing, I start with a master list printed from my computer. As I prepare for a specific outing, I take notes on the list, crossing out items I won’t need (like Christmas gifts) and adding items important for this particular trip (like binoculars).

The following must-haves are items above and beyond the essentials.

1 – Pre-packed Travel Case – My travel case is always ready to go. I use travel-sized containers and re-fill them as necessary. Since I am allergic to most scents, I travel with my own shampoo, conditioner, and soap.

2 – Map and Printed Directions – I am not against GPS, but I am a map girl. I want to know where we are in relation to our target and why I am turning on 136 West when my destination is to the south.

3 – Water Bottles – Whether you use your own or stock up at the local grocery store, a supply of these saves time and money. Here is another hint: If you are running low on water but still have bottles, stop at a gas station, purchase a gallon of water, and re-fill your bottles.

4 – Granola Bars – A quick, easy snack that travels well.

5 – Cash – This may seem like an odd item to include, but in this day and age of credit/debit cards many do not carry cash on a regular basis. Remember to grab some before taking off. You may need it for entrance fees, tipping, quick stops, outdoor vendors, etc.

6 – Scissors – I recently added this item. They come in handy to remove price tags, snip loose threads, and cut off wrist bands worn to indicate you’ve paid an entrance fee at places like track meets. A closely related item is a knife used to cut apples and oranges or make pb&j sandwiches.

7 – Wet Wipes – Another recently added item, I use these to clean spills or wipe my hands after eating. (Remember my allergy to scented items? I purchase unscented and sometimes use them in place of soap and water.)

8 – Ear Plugs – My husband uses these to block out noise when he sleeps. I use a different kind to plug my ears while swimming.

9 – Plastic Bags in Various Sizes – Snack-sized are convenient for small items and daily doses of vitamins. Quart-sized are suitable for icing an injury. The grocery-store size is handy for wet bathing suits, dirty clothes, trash, and the occasional puking occurrences.

10 – A Good Book – Closely related to this is a card game.

BONUS – A Surrendered Attitude – Inevitably something will not go as planned while you travel. Therefore, surrender your heart, attitude, and vacation plans to God. Be ready and willing to remain calm, loving, and kind even in difficult and unexpected circumstances.

What are your must-haves when traveling? Let us know in the comments below.