Youth Matters… Don’t Quit!

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Proverbs 22:6 King James Version (KJV) “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

 This past year I have been teaching bible studies in our local County Jail. I open my bible study each time with the question; “Tell me about your church background and how familiar you are with the bible?” The number one answer is, “I used to go to church when I was younger, but haven’t been in awhile.” A few even have some knowledge of the bible; yet they are still sitting in jail – as law breakers of our society.

I am convinced that whatever their exposure to church was when they were younger, these girls received the motivation to check out bible study in jail; when God plants the there, to get their attention and reveals to them a better way of life. He chose not to reach them on the streets, instead he uses the streets to capture their hearts and put them in a place where they have to stand face to face with the bad choices that they have made with their lives

It takes courage to sign up and have your named announced on a loud (and I mean loud) speaker and then to visibly line up to be escorted through the whinding hallways of spectators before arriving at the bible study room. Yet they come.

I’m always surprised and amazed who enters the room. I’m not able to ask what they’ve done or get overly personal, I’m just there to bring the message of hope of Jesus Christ, no matter what they have done. To love them, accept them and show them that God has a better way, a better plan and a brighter, hope-filled future. I feel a frog in my throat and tear up realizing how profoundly blessed I am to be able to minister to them in this way.

My main message today is to say… whether you are mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, foster parent, aunt, uncle or neighbor, thank you for bringing the children in your life to church. I passionately teach 3rd graders on Sunday mornings about having a relationship with Jesus and in many ways, it’s in the hope that they find Jesus and commit their lives to him while they are young in an effort to prevent them from having end up as societies

I realize that the world (TV, friends, social media, teachers, etc…) tell them a whole different message; a confusing message. I have my own teenagers to know that. Here is my petition… don’t quit.

Even if your child rebels and walks away from their faith later in life, even to the point of being put in jail, God can use your faithful commitment to draw them back to himself. I seriously can’t thank you enough for doing whatever it is that you have to do to get them here – weekly.

The other day I sat with a beautiful young girl who requested a 1:1 because she realized that she messed up her life and needed to get right with God. She prayed to accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior and in tears she replied, “Thank you, I have lost everything, my job, my house, my car, my marriage, my kids and everything that I own, but I now have Jesus. I’m ready to start building my life over again, but this time with Him in charge.” How did she know that she needed Jesus? She said her Grandmother took her to church when she was younger and she has an Aunt who is “very religious” and prays for her. I was blessed to witness a transformed heart, right before my eyes, and if I could meet her Grandmother or Aunt I would say, “Well done good and faithful servants!”

 

 

Who’s Behind That Bucket?

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You’ve seen them, heard them and may potentially be one of them… a Salvation Army Bell Ringer. I’ve made a deal with myself this Christmas that every red bucket with a volunteer ringing, I will give whatever I have in my coin purse.

C’mon, don’t judge.

If you shopped as much as me, you would understand that this is frequent and generous – and if I am still empty from my last gift, I give a $1 or $5 – especially if there are kids ringing or they are subject to the harsh, cold winter elements.  Sure, I could tell you about the great and amazing things that the Salvation Army does with those donations, but you can read that online. What I want to do is to give you a perspective.

Who is that standing behind that bell, apron, bucket or Santa hat? For some reason I’m paying attention this year. I usually would drop money in, a few times a season, just to give to a good cause, but I keep thinking of 1997; 10 years ago. Back then, I worked for a staffing service. One of our laborers was injured on the job so under workman’s comp we had to give him some “light duty” work until he was cleared by his doctor to return to full duty. In just a few weeks, he was caught up on filing, cleaning, organizing and purging so being the season of bell ringers, we enlisted him to ring bells – paid! He didn’t want to, but if he refused, he was in essence refusing work ,and therefore, voluntarily terminating his employment. So reluctantly he set out daily for his eight hour work day of bell ringing. I really felt bad for the guy, I really did, but he was getting paid, and he was performing work, that was within his physical capability, so it was a win-win, right?

As a result of this, I am now much more sincere, appreciative and outspokenly thankful for those who elect to ring. I know most of bell ringers are not standing there out of obligation, but what if one is? Let alone eight hours of obligation? Could how we treat those people behind the pail be a ministry in and of itself? Maybe my poor laborer would have been more willing to set out for a day of being generous and want to serve in this capacity if people were kind and thankful. Unfortunately, that is not always true.

I have witnessed first-hand what it is like behind that little red kettle. Some people pretend you don’t exist. I always wondered, “How can you ignore that incessant ring?” I have even observed people literally going way out of their way to avoid the door that the bell ringers are in – using the Enter door as the Exit door as if to avoid that Grinch-like encounter. As believers, followers of Christ, let’s rally to thank everyone who is giving their time to serve. Why not? Shouldn’t we thank people for going above and beyond and for showing their support of such a great organization and worthy cause?

It’s so neat, now that I have decided to lean in and thank each volunteer for serving and expressing that gratitude by putting money into the pail, as almost to give a gratuity for their gesture, and showing genuine interest in the fact that a human being is bringing life to that lonely red pail. If any of them are there by force, maybe we can turn their hearts to feeling appreciated and cared for; not condemned, obligated or forced.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the responses that I have received from the bell ringers this year; it’s positive, refreshing and in a way, loving. It has given me a wonderful Christmas season attitude. I petition you to try it. See for yourself what a blessing it is to be nice, go above and beyond and express gratitude.

Tag! You’re it!

1 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 

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An Extra Seat At The Table

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I crack open my bible to the book of Matthew this morning and in reading chapter 21, I read about Jesus’ triumphal entry on a donkey. Prophecy is being fulfilled, he’s revealing himself as more than a prophet, he’s a King! It’s purely awesome. Being “just” Thanksgiving today this story hits me – Where is Jesus today?  Christmas is flashy with the lights, trees, nativity scenes and stockings hung by the chimney with care. Easter gets the bunny and eggs and pastel decor and the remembrance of the cross and crown of thorns, but thanksgiving is nothing religious per se; it’s just a day of food and family and a lot of it. Granted, we do – and should – pause and give thanks by counting our blessings. I, for one, actually do an mental inventory of all that I am thankful for, but where is Jesus?

Of course he’s here. He’s always here, but do we make a place for him at the table? Do we invite him to fellowship with us and make this day Jesus centered?  We should! Yes I am thankful for a roof over my head, good health, a closet full of clothes, running water, beautiful children and adorable dogs, but all of this pails in comparison to what Jesus did on the cross for you and me. My sins have been abolished, I am given the assurance that I will spend eternity in heaven with him AND above all, He died for me.  My sin caused separation from a perfect and Holy God, He took it all onto himself and died. I’m so undeserving and today of all days I cannot take that for granted.

So I pledge, as I sit at the table today, I will pull up an extra chair to honor Him and to make Him a part of my Thanksgiving day. Today is an important and significant day to say thank you to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Psalm 107

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
    from east and west, from north and south.

Some wandered in desert wastelands,
    finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
    and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
    to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
    prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
    and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
    they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
    and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
    and cuts through bars of iron.

17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
    and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
18 They loathed all food
    and drew near the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them;
    he rescued them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
    and tell of his works with songs of joy.

23 Some went out on the sea in ships;
    they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the Lord,
    his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
    that lifted high the waves.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
    in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
    they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
    the waves of the sea[b] were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
    and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
    and praise him in the council of the elders.

33 He turned rivers into a desert,
    flowing springs into thirsty ground,
34 and fruitful land into a salt waste,
    because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
35 He turned the desert into pools of water
    and the parched ground into flowing springs;
36 there he brought the hungry to live,
    and they founded a city where they could settle.
37 They sowed fields and planted vineyards
    that yielded a fruitful harvest;
38 he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
    and he did not let their herds diminish.

39 Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled
    by oppression, calamity and sorrow;
40 he who pours contempt on nobles
    made them wander in a trackless waste.
41 But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
    and increased their families like flocks.
42 The upright see and rejoice,
    but all the wicked shut their mouths.

43 Let the one who is wise heed these things
    and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.

 

 

 

God Continues to Amaze Me

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It was one year ago today that I made the courageous decision to step away from my job.  The truth is, part of that decision wasn’t even mine. God put up several barriers that made it obvious, over a short period of time, that He had a different plan. Here I am – one year later – aaaaand no job. When I quit or threw in the proverbial towel (as it feels more appropriate to say), my expectation was that God would drop a new, “better” job in my lap. Sadly, God has made it obvious that I’m not the one in charge, nor does He care what I think is best.  Further confirmed by Isaiah 55:8, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.”

As I reflect back, I am in awe of all he has done in and through my life these past 12 months and oh how I will cherish this unplanned, unwanted professional sabbatical for the rest of my life. I have had the privilege of capturing memorable moments with my two daughters; one going off to College today (YIKES) and the other who needed me to “Uber” her butt all over the place until she got her drivers license last month. From spontaneous Sushi lunches and desert binging afternoons coupled with impulsive shopping sprees, I have loved and will forever treasure those special moments. When they say time speeds up, they are so not kidding when kids hit high school… Where did the time go?

In addition, I have been blessed all year with no pressure, no rush time in my bible and the ability cross reference other versions, commentaries and sources; I know I have gained greater depth and insight and my relationship with God has grown more intimate.  It’s been fun to, daily, have my dogs sleeping on my legs, enjoying long walks and endless puppy play times. I have invested in relationships that I treasure deeply and I have been able to mend some of the bridges in relationships had been neglected from being over committed and busy in the past. I felt like a hypocrite leading a Women’s Bible Study this past summer about taking a Sabbath to enjoy a more balanced life and when I was the busiest, it was because of charities and people in need whom benefited from my open/flexible calendar. My fulfillment barometer has overflowed.

On the flip side, this year has had it’s share of disappointment and more than my fair share of rejection letters (I’m refusing to count them all until God opens the door to wherever He is leading me), but it has been quite a walk on a tight rope to balance my faith, patience and contentment, while battling (almost daily) with the flood of emotions that would easily overwhelm me with feelings of insecurity, inadequacy and self-defeat.

I still have no idea where or when this journey will end, but I know I’m a better woman for having been through it. So let me turn this into a message that will encourage your heart.

  1. Don’t doubt God. Even when there are no answers or easy explanations as to why you are going through something you didn’t plan for, remind yourself that He is God and He has the better plan.
  2. Keep Moving. It would have been easy to stay in bed longer and roll to the couch in self-pity, but that’s not good for anyone; especially me.  I committed to getting up early (usually 5AM) for devotional time, exercise or have coffee/walks with friends. I feel great and I’ve even shed some unwanted weight. That, in and of itself, has given me even more energy.
  3. Stay positive and be grateful. If I spent too much time on stinkin’ thinkin’, what a mess I would be. Instead, I would take inventory of all the things that I am grateful for and the obvious blessings in my life that can easily be overshadowed at any given moment. That mindset shift alone is a powerful tool for success.
  4. Don’t dwell on the what-ifs or why-nots? These questions have no definitive answers and at the end of the day, they rob you of faith that God ultimately has a plan and a purpose for your life. Our minds were created to seek answers, be inquisitive, rationalize or find logic in things. Since we can’t change the past and we can’t get a do-over to do whatever “what-if” scenarios you muster up, it’s just a waste of time and energy. Be forward thinking, learn from the past, but move on!
  5. Look for opportunities. Opportunities to lean in and support friends who are going through a difficult time, feed the homeless, volunteer at the jail, serve at church or join a committee that can benefit from your talents and your time. I can’t emphasize enough the unbelievable shift in your perspective when you walk alongside of or intentionally spend time with those who are much, much worse off than you. It is the most humbling place to be and you are blessed far, far more than you are a blessing to those to whom you serve.

Keep reading and following. I hope to inspire you in the Lord and I thank you for being a spectator to my life’s journey.

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5 Ways You Are Growing Spiritually

Woman hand in jail

Upon finishing an hour of women’s bible study at the local county jail, I got in my car, rested my forehead on my steering wheel and reminded myself to breathe. My heart was heavy as my mind replayed all of the conversations from the past hour and each woman’s face returned to my mind. With a huge sigh I silently prayed, “Lord, let them have ears to hear what You needed them to hear.”

Then my thoughts shift to, “Did I say the right thing?”, “I should have told them…”, and “Oh no! I completely forgot to say…”.

“STOP! What am I doing?” I then realized that I am pridefully limiting God. It’s like I have a Doctor Jekyll – Mr. Hyde conversation quarreling in my head. Regardless of what I should have, could have and might have said, God can use it; I have a confident faith that he will use it, but Satan certainly wants me to feel defeated and stop this jail ministry non-sense, trying to convince me that it’s a fruitless waste of time.

It’s a battle of the mind and I consciously have to take my thoughts captive and cancel out negativity, redirecting my critical heart to prayer, “Lord, I know you were there and whatever I did right use it for your glory, whatever I inadvertently excluded, give them a hunger and a thirst for your truth.”

Why is this a big deal? To be transparent, my love language is affirmation. If there is one place on this earth that you won’t get a pat on the back or an “Atta girl” for doing a good job – it’s jail. As I drove away, continuing to mentally duke it out, I felt a peace come over me; a peace in the confidence that God’s word spoken in that hour were seeds that God can use to grow. Claiming victory in this head conversation made me realize that I have grown Spiritually and I thought I would share this and other observable spiritual growth examples with you.

  1. God Fills The Gaps

This is progress for me. For so many years I gave myself a report card on my performance (for everything) and I inevitably came up short every time. Sure it earned me an impressive resume, some level of popularity and a cocky confidence that all of my combined achievements would somehow impress God because I was diligently using all the talents that He gave me and achieved certain levels of success. I now know that it was unimpressive to God. God created me a workman for His good works (Ephesians 2:10), not the other way around. When I was in achievement, advancement and self-improvement mode, what I was really doing was idolizing the world; chasing after false gods and ultimately building a pedestal that only esteemed me, not God. Oh how I used all of this ambition and missed the whole point. Yet, he used these things (success, achievement, accolades and rewards) as a way to show me that my way only reaps discontentment, burn-out and defeat. There is a gap between my ability and His and I now recognize that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. (Matthew 11:30)

2. It’s Not About Me

Any control freaks out there? I’m a recovering control freak thanks to Christ. I have come to realize that not only can’t I control everything, but when I do try I am just getting in God’s way. God gave us His Word with instructions on how to live. If I try to create an outcome or impose what I think is best for the situation, that now sends me a red flag. If I force my kids to play a certain sport, instrument or take certain classes because I think it will help them get better grades, earn scholarships or help them get admitted to a better college – I’m causing interference in God’s plan. He knows what is best for them and if I trust Him (like I tell Him and others that I do), then I need to pray for my kids, but I shouldn’t tell God what “I think” is best for them. In the end, I don’t know God’s big and mighty and sovereign plan for their lives and chances are whatever He’s up to is going to be 10x better than I could ever ask for or imagine.

3. God uses ordinary people

If we collected the resumes of the twelve disciples we would realize they didn’t “qualify” to be in Jesus’ inner circle. Truth is, neither are we. That is what is so beautiful. If we bring Him our whole heart and let Him do the work; on us, in us and through us. What has truly baffled me lately is how many people and situations God has placed me in now that I surrender my will. I see ways to serve people EVERYWHERE. At the grocery store, at church, at work, on the streets and in my neighborhood. I just have to make myself available for Him to do His work. John MacArthur, in his 6/26/2017 sermon titled, “The Necessary Components of Saving Faith”, he says, “The longer I’ve been a Christian the more I realize that I don’t do anything for the Lord. I not only don’t do anything for the Lord, but I can’t do anything for the Lord and the wonder of wonders is that the Lord can do what he does through ME!” Me! That statement completely turns my idea of service for God upside down, or should I say right side up?

4. Stop the Stinkin’ Thinkin’

God’s plans are not our plans (Isaiah 55:8) and sometimes I find myself feeling a bit defeated when outcomes don’t happen the way I expect them to or (maybe worst) has fast as I expect them to happen. I am a happy person by nature, but I have to admit, if you could spend even an hour in my head you would be shocked at the negativity. It’s grumbling mostly. Thoughts of hating my clothes, wishing the kids would put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher, or questions like, “Why can’t they… [fill in the blank].” Because of scripture, I can re-think these thoughts and put them into a healthier, more positive, perspective. Thoughts of blessings for the roof over my head, clothes in my closet and a wash machine to keep them clean. Instead of wishing for my kids to be responsible enough to clean up after themselves, praising God for good health, the ability to serve them and knowing I’m honoring God by not nagging and complaining about it. Then the question elimination. If I find myself asking why questions for things that are not done, are inconvenient for me or causes me to search for answers that only God really knows, I just submit and accept that the why comes back to why I would want it or expect it to be another way. If they don’t want a clean house, but I do, guess who can take the steps to keep a clean house? Me! So if it’s important to me, I can just do it and feel like it’s my act of service, demonstrating my love for them.

5. I’m Not a Prisoner to Satan

He made me perfect. What artist shows up to an easel an plans to do a mediocre job? Not one. Artists show up to create a masterpiece and that is exactly what God did when he created us, but Satan doesn’t want us to believe that. He fills our minds with self-doubt and plants lies. Those ladies in the jail that I minister to may be behind bars, but the devil entraps us in a prison cell of our own. Bondage to never having enough, being enough, making enough or anything enough. BUT WE ARE! God says that he knows every hair on our head and in Ephesians 1:11-12 Paul writes, “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.”

It doesn’t get any better than that my friends. It doesn’t get any better than that.

His truth produces growth, transformation of character, renewing of our minds and strength to overcome. So read, grow and see that the more you love Jesus, the more clear and content you will be.

Bible Epiphany

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Do you ever read God’s Word and literally hug it? I do! About 6 years ago I gave myself permission to take the rest of my life to learn the Word of God. I’m not a bible scholar and as far as I can tell God is not calling me into full-time ministry, so I thought, whether I have a couple of days or another 70 years, why not go deep into God’s Word? Rather than rush through it or follow some plan that would put pressure on me to finish it – I would just take it one chapter, one day, at a time.

So here I am, 6 years (almost to the day) later that I started this blog and I started reading my bible at Genesis 1:1. I invited you on my journey back then, but after a short time, I felt convicted that I was making bible reading and blogging another box to be checked off of my daily to-do list. God clearly doesn’t want to be a “task”, He wants a relationship, so He showed me the opposite, “Remain in me and I will remain in you”. (John 15:4)

Confession: I have missed days and I have deviated from scripture to attend a bible study or five, but this is my marathon, not my sprint.

To date, I just finished up the book of Daniel and am well on my way into the depressing pages of Hosea. I think I may be on pace to be in the Genis Book of World Records for longest time taken to ever read the bible cover to cover. I googled it actually and there are some pretty hysterical records, and to be honest, I’m convinced that even the best bible scholar of today would still admit they have more to learn and it’s a book you can never put down. Here’s the bottom line, it’s not about how fast you read, it’s about knowing who God is. When you read the bible and spend focused time with God, un-rushed, and you can really absorb, even a mere glimpse of who God is, you hug Him, or at least the closest thing to Him, His written word.

My latest ah-ha is how much I wish I would have paid attention in history class. All of the historical significance that validates the accuracy of scripture is mind-blowing. Then, I always was under the belief that the bible was written in a timeline and in some sequential order; like the editions of encyclopedias. Oh – No – No! They are, in fact, written in perfect intertwined chronology. This makes it even more mind-blowing that the same facts that were witnessed and reported, where almost always written by complete strangers – who were not even related. *Poof goes my brain*.  For example. Jeremiah and Ezekiel lived at the same time, but never knew each other, yet what they write is 100% accurate from two completely different geographical locations and vantages points. God used them and their books are spot on – verified and validated by the other. I scratch my head, “How many times and how many ways can people be warned about their sin and idols and still neglect to acknowledge the one and only true God.” It hits a little too close to home, doesn’t it?

I pray that if you’ve read this far, that you adopt the same philosophy of committing your lifetime to knowing God and giving His Word a squeeze every now and then, in awe of who He is.

When God Breaks Your Heart

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“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” Matthew 25:40

I type with tears rolling down my cheeks over Jenny. Jenny is a young mom who accepted Christ a little over a month ago and she, unfortunately, has had a tough, rough life. A jagged past and helpless circumstances brought her to a place of defeat and she surrendered her life. At the end of herself, she realized that she needed a Savior. Her story is remarkable and her confidence that “everything will be okay” is admirable in her new found faith.

I have a heart for Jenny. She doesn’t have anyone in her life to model what a follower of Christ looks like. Talk about a repentant sinner, it’s unfathomable for me to imagine doing a complete 180 from where Jenny has been. My personal journey was more of a yellow brick road, where I met people and happened upon experiences along the way that eventually, at age 32, led me to Christ and, ultimately, confidence of my heavenly home. Jenny, on the other hand, has a story that is more like the Damascus road, Jesus showed up and – boom! – She was blind, but now she sees.

Jenny came into my life because her daughter is one of my 3rd graders in Sunday School. I put an invitation out to all of my 3rd graders and strongly encouraged them to attend bible camp this summer. Jenny took me up on my offer for her daughter to attend, but one caveat, wanted to go to. Miraculously, we were able to secure a volunteer position as a camp cook; she eagerly jumped at the opportunity to be in close proximity to her 9 year old, only child.

As a volunteer, she needed to arrive at camp a day earlier for staff orientation so I elected to drive her up a day early. Now, being a former camp kid, and a life-long advocate of this particular Bible Camp, I always thought of camp as “roughen it”. What I mean is… there are community showers, a pungent aroma of evergreen trees and no internet access.” [INSERT SHRIEKING HORROR MUSIC]

Yet, here comes Jenny with fresh, innocent, optimistic eyes and as we toured camp she was expressively in awe. What impacted me the most in her inspiring first impressions was when she set her sleeping bag on her bunk and said, “This is like a 5-star resort, are you kidding me, this is amazing!” Behind that statement is the fact that she is currently sleeping on the dining room floor of a friends house because she was recently evicted from her apartment and they are, in essence, homeless. Compared to her current living arrangement; camp is modern, spacious and abundant with amenities – nothing short of luxurious in her mind.

Given a perspective like this, all of a sudden I felt embarrassed and ashamed over all that I am taking for-granted. For example, my 2015 Nissan Rogue is a lemon (Not kidding), but Jenny was amazed by dual climate control, a rear back-up camera and the remote key-less entry. Add to that, she said she was expecting camp to be a big tent like you would see the movie “M.A.S.H.” and was literally preparing for the worst, yet willing to endure whatever she needed to be near her daughter for the week.

How can I NOT cry? God used Jenny to show me just how abundantly blessed I am! What started out as an invitation to attend camp, turned into God revealing how much I have become Americanized; discontent, spoiled rotten and ungrateful.

Shame. On. Me!

The reality is that sometimes God has to break your heart to show you that He’s not done with you yet. I may have a 15-year head start on my walk with the LORD, but Jenny’s contentment, faith and confidence in Jesus is a reminder to me that I have no reason not to be thankful in all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:18