Tuesday, November 30, 2010

paint it like a Picasso

Shortly after I moved into my house my family came over to help me paint.  My nephew, who was just a little guy at the time, so badly wanted to help but he was just too small to use the rollers and brushes the adults were using. He cried and cried because he just wanted to help, so I searched the house and found one of those foam brush on a stick thingys, it was just the right size to fit into his little hand. He was less than happy and wanted to know why he couldn’t use the big brushes like the adults were using, I told him it was a very special brush I picked out just for him and only really special people could use it, his eyes grew wide, reeeeeeally he asked, yupperrrrs I replied.  Then I gave him about a 3ft x 3ft wall in my hallway to paint, again he was not happy because he wanted to paint on the big walls like the adults, so I told him that is was a very special wall that I only let really special people paint on, his face lit up. My nephew thinks I am so totally not cool, in fact he takes great pleasure in telling me what a nerd I am, no one can humble you quite like a tweenager can, but I earned major cool Auntie points that day.  He had this wild and crazy out of control hair back then and no matter what my sister did to it, it still stuck straight up. So my nephew, with his special paint brush and alfalfa hair bobbing up and down was concentrating so hard on painting that wall his little tongue was sticking out of the side of his mouth, he painted like he was painting a one of a kind Picasso. My nephew is older now and has since graduated to the big people paint brushes, but I still look at that wall and remember that day. 

God has a special paintbrush too, one for each of His children, with a special wall just for us to paint on. Perhaps it is your life that has been a little wild and crazy out of control, there is still paint brush waiting for you. I was watching a television program about Mother Teresa, one thing she said really got my attention, we are all given a special gift, and if the gift you have been given is to be a potato peeler then you be the best potato peeler you can be, peel ‘em like a Picasso.  A potato peeler is just as valuable to God as someone who has dedicated their life to missions. Whatever wall you have been given to paint, with whatever paintbrush you have been given to use, know that it is just the right size and has been picked out just for you by God to help paint His Kingdom.  As our faith grows so do our walls and brushes, so whatever your paintbrush looks like or how small or large your wall is at the moment, paint it like a Picasso.

Luke 16:10 tells us that whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Ephesians 5:20 tells us to always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In a few days we will be gathering around our tables giving thanks and this year my family will be welcoming some new friends to ours.  It has been a year of seasons, nothing has stayed the same for too very long, and change still lingers in the air, doors have closed and others have opened, I have had to say good bye to some cherished friends while welcoming new ones. This year I am grateful for all the lives that have intersected with mine and the circumstances that have brought me to the place where I stand today.   As I breathe in and take inventory of what the past year has brought I can’t help but be grateful not just for the times of joy but for the times of sorrow as well.  Some have a left permanent smile tattooed on my heart while other left a crimson stain, some have crossed my path but for a moment, while others lingered a little longer, but all of them have touched my life and changed it forever.  All of those things were orchestrated by the hand of God to shape and mold me into the person He intended for me to be and it is my testimony of His grace, mercy and love.  

I am grateful for the people who have been kind and loving towards me, even when I wasn’t so lovable.

I am grateful to Jesus for going to the cross so I don’t have to. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to be joyful always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  So when the waters start to rise I remind myself of what He did for me, that I can have faith and trust in whatever storm comes my way He will be there to walk with me.

I am grateful for the simple pleasures.  The absolutely gorgeous summer we had here in Wisconsin and the extra time He gave me to enjoy it. To sit at His feet, among His creation and really dig my heels into the Word.  I have fallen head over heals in love with Jesus, I loved Him before, but this a whole new ball game.  I take Him everywhere I go, He is the best date I ever had.

I am grateful for my sisters in Christ who have walked this journey with me.  Who have propped me up when I was down, held my hand when I wept, help celebrate my victories and encouraged me when I didn’t think I could make it another day.

Be grateful, not just when times are good but when they are not so good, a grateful heart is a contented heart.  When the waves start to swell a grateful heart can get up on that surf board and glide right over em. It is how we choose to live our lives through and after those experiences that glorifies God. 

The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 4:12-13, I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Stop by Rachel Olsen's blog to read what others have written on gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Last year when I went to Chris Tomlin Christmas concert, Audrey Assad sang her song Winter Song, it is beautiful, a link to the song is attached. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

always a treasure

Each week I put a little bit of money away in my book jar, and when I have enough saved I treat myself to a trip to the bookstore to pick out a book.  Usually there are so many to choose from it is hard to decide and whatever I don’t buy on that trip I either get on my next one or put it on my Christmas or birthday list, which ever one comes first, but today was something different. I had a book in mind that I wanted to get but God had other ideas. I didn’t find the book I was looking for I found the book that God had already picked out for me, Knit Together by Debbie Macomber.  I usually read the first chapter before I decide on anything, so I nestled into a chair and before I even had a chance to get comfortable I was hooked, by paragraph two.  Even though she was writing about her own life, it felt like in someway as if she were looking through a telescope into mine.  She wrote about her own struggles with a disability, dyslexia and her humble beginnings, she is the last person anyone would think, including her, to become a best selling author.  The children’s librarian at the library Debbie frequented as a child also had problems reading, you may have heard of her, her name is Beverly Cleary. 

I don’t know why I am still amazed at the way God shows up in our lives, He can turn a regular ordinary day in an extraordinary day, He can turn what one person sees as trash into a beautiful treasure.  There is a part in the book where an editor tells Debbie to throw away her manuscript, I think that book went on to be a best seller, what one person saw as trash became a treasure to millions.  A few weeks ago I came to the end of myself, and gave up the last little bit of control I was trying to hang onto, I extended my arms and held out my hands and gave it all up, “Father You take it, I am going to go do my thing and when You are ready come get me, You know where to find me”, He found me in the bookstore. My feet have been on a journey I never expected, a long journey that has been ripe with steep mountains, deep oceans and treacherous terrain, sometimes wondering how I was going to make it through, and even during my days when I largely ignored God, He never left my side, sometimes He held my hand making sure I didn’t fall and other times when my legs were too tired to take even one more step He picked me up and carried me over that mountain. 

I have been to the end of myself before, and it has been in those times I have seen God’s amazing grace and mercy, it is when I have seen Him at His best, where I have realized what I huge God I worship. Sometimes we have to get to the end of ourselves before we can see the new He wants to give us, as long as we are still holding onto a little piece of the control we prevent Him from working in our lives, we have to let go of how we think things should look and let God work it how He wants it to look.  As a good friend once told me, God may have some something really great planned, but He is waiting on you.

  We have heard it said before that He doesn’t call the most equipped, He equips those He calls, and sometimes the way He equips doesn’t look the way we would expect. He equipped Debbie Macomber through her humble beginnings and dyslexia.  It is the story He is writing through the least likely that He will use for His glory, however He chooses for that to look.  I may never be a best selling author, or publish anything beyond this blog, but He wouldn’t have given me this story to write if He hadn’t intended on sharing it, however that may look, more words of wisdom from the same friend. I leave it up to God to decide how He wants to share the story He has written through me for His glory.

In the book of Acts we learn about Saul of Tarsus, he was busy doing his own thing, killing Christians, and he was having fun doing it. In Acts 9:4, we learn that while on the road to Damascus Jesus appeared before Saul and Saul fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  Saul eventually became the Apostle Paul and from what I hear quite a spokesman for Jesus.

God can use anyone that means me, that means you. Whatever your life has been or what it looks like, to the awesome God we have the privilege to serve, it is a treasure.

Lets take a listen today to the song, Our God, by Chris Tomlin.  Truly an inspiring up lifting song.

Monday, November 8, 2010

hands and feet

It is the journey that God has taken my feet on that has enabled my hands to type the words that He has placed in my heart to write, and what a journey it has been.  Each one of us is knitted together, carefully, precisely and intentionally, given our own special gift with a specific purpose in mind.   I have been gifted with a learning disability that at one time I did not see as a gift at all.  In my youth I struggled academically and I have spent most of my life struggling with why I have it.  I don’t like having this disability and you will not see me running on a mountain top singing “the hills are alive with the sound of music” anytime soon as a testimony, but I have come to accept it as a gift.  I really have no choice in the matter, there is no magic pill or miracle surgery to fix it, I was born with it and I will die with it.

I have felt the frustration of others around me, even becoming frustrated with myself at times, as hard as I try my brain just doesn’t process information quickly, I am not incapable of learning, the dial on my learn-o-meter is set at slow. It is discouraging, it robs you of your dignity, at times I felt worthless, like a lesser human being, when the small amount of self respect I had left was stolen away with one callous remark, “there is no hope for you”, wondering why I was even put on this earth to live this life, I didn’t understand it.

I have a plaque hanging on the wall in my hallway, it is quote from Mother Teresa, “I always know God won’t give me more than I can handle, but there are times I wish He didn’t trust me so much”.  I have had my moments when I wish God wouldn’t have trusted me with this disability, “no thank you, I think You made a mistake can You find someone else please?”  But God doesn’t make mistakes His creation of me was deliberate as is His creation of all his children.  He knows our beginning and our end, and He knew that I would need this disability someday to lead me to the path He has prepared for me, to be His hands and feet.

I have often wondered where in this world me and my disability fit, where the prideful boast of survival of the fittest, a society that values quick thinkers, fast learners and our worth is measured by our financial assets and how many work hours we log, I fit into none of it, rather choosing to live in God’s society, to let Him drive the car of my life and use it for His glory.  My disability steers me away from the path of my own making that up to this point has not really worked out well for me, and puts me on His path, a path that is so much better than anything I could ever think up for myself.  I don’t need to be the strongest, fastest or smartest, there is no survival of the fittest in God’s kingdom.  He chose a mere sheep herder, the smallest and weakest of all his brothers to be king, don’t discount the David’s of the world you may need them one day to beat the Goliath’s. 

As hard as it has been at times my disability is a gift, and when the time is right, when His preparation is done and I am ready to start the next leg of His tour He will send me and my disability out into this world to be His hands and feet.
There is a song floating around by Jonny Diaz, More Beautiful You, I have attached a link for the song. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

this little light of mine

When I first became a Christian the biggest struggle I had with God was why he allowed suffering and the only answer I ever got to that question was, there is a reason for it. A few years ago I served meals at a homeless shelter, men women and children shuffled in by the hundreds, each one having their own story as to why they were living on the streets.  Many of them had addictions that put them there, some had mental health issues, others were just hard luck stories, they lost their job and eventually everything else right along with it.  You could see the deadness in many of their eyes, they had given up on life and they were just trying to survive, day by day, hour by hour minute by minute.  But there was one young man that wasn’t like the rest of them, yes his entire life was stuffed into a tiny duffle bag that he carried around with him, he sat in the corner by himself, with his head down, eating like he hadn’t seen a meal in days, but on the rare occasion that he did look up from his plate, I could see that he still had a fire in him, his little light was still burning.  It is hard to say how long he had been living on the streets, perhaps it has only been a short while and it hadn’t broken his spirit like it had with so many others in that room that day, perhaps it was only a matter of time before his little light would too burn out, but on that day he still had some fight left in him.  I never saw him again after that, I never knew his name or what his story was, but I think about him from time to time and wonder whatever became of him. 

The shelter that I served at wasn’t one that was in my comfortable suburban town, it was in the inner city, where poverty already reigned supreme, the tiny room of the church where I worked was hot, it was a sweltering summer day with no air conditioning, the air was thick with unwashed bodies, and unwashed clothes, the tables and chairs were unsteady on their feet and I half expected a few of them to buckle under the weight of its occupant, and as I scanned the room I wondered where God was.  This was in my very early days as a Christian when I didn’t quite understand why God would allow such things to happen.  Many years later I realized that God was in that room, he was right there with each and every one of us, I saw him in the sadness behind that young mans eyes whose little light was fighting the darkness to keep shining.

I worked in the city for many years, and almost daily went outside for lunch, and on some days I would loose count of the multitudes of homeless people on the street asking me for money, to be honest I usually declined, but there were some that I can’t help but to remember them, the young man in the homeless shelter that day and the young man on the Riverwalk.  Most days I would spend my lunch hour on the Riverwalk, there was a book store on the corner and benches along the river where I would eat my lunch and I loved spending time there, one day  I felt the presence of the boy standing on front of me, he was no older twenty years old and refused to look in my direction as he asked me for a quarter then backed up a good ten feet from me as I rummaged through my purse looking for something to give him when I saw the five dollars, and I felt the nudging on my heart, give it to him his children are hungry, I motioned him over and told him I didn’t have a quarter but take this instead and handed him the five dollars.  The person sitting next to me looked on in disbelief, telling me he was probably going to go buy drugs with that, I said perhaps, but I don’t think so, but really only God knows for sure what he is going to do with that money, it is out of my hands now.

I am not telling this story to toot my own horn, or make you think I am more than what I am, because really the person that I am is a person that more times than not would walk right past the person who is asking me for a dollar or even a quarter, but there have been a few times over the years where I saw a little flicker of light that was struggling to shine through the darkness.  I have never told this story before, and over the years it has faded to memory until I went to the Tenth Avenue North, Addison Road and Matt Maher concert, and Addison Road sang the song, This Little Light of Mine, and I remembered those two young men that crossed my path many years before whose little light was shining before me and I couldn’t help but take notice, I thought about them that night and wondered where they were, if they were safe, and had enough to eat. 

When I started writing this I had no idea where I was going with it, and honestly now that I am at the end of  it I have no words of wisdom to share, no lesson to be learned, just the story of two young men who in some ways became invisible to the rest of the world through their journey of homelessness and poverty but touched something so deep inside of me that I will not forget them.

For your listening pleasure today I Addison Road, This Little Light of Mine. Enjoy!