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

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Mom’s Advice To Her Graduate

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Congratulations! I want to take this opportunity to tell you how proud of you I am. Today is a day you will remember for the rest of your life and today is the day that your life will drastically change. Mostly for the good, but the path ahead isn’t going to be as clear as graduating to the next grade and living within rules preset for you. With each passing year from here on out, you get to choose… it’s kind of scary, but it’s fun. At least I hope you see it as fun; an adventure that you get to create through your decisions, goals and dreams. What is beautiful about today, for me, is that I know you are ready. You have grown and matured, become your own unique person and you are equipped with everything you need to prosper in this life.

After today you are empowered to make decisions that will ultimately determine the kind of life you want to lead, who you want to become and what you want to be. Of course I have some Motherly wisdom that I can only hope you will find valuable as you “take on the world.”

1st and foremost, make God the leader of your life. The sooner you do, and the more frequently you remind yourself that you did, you will minimize regrets, find your life’s purpose faster and eliminate the senseless floundering; being tossed and turned by the distractions of the world and all the confusing messages it gives you. I didn’t find Jesus Christ until I was 32 years old. Your bible is your guide through this life; God’s instruction manual. Oh, if only I would have taken that advice when I graduated from High School, I wasted so many years trying to figure it out. I know you gave your life to Christ, but as you venture out on your own, you need to make your faith your own too. You need to consciously and sacrificially make him a priority. If there is anything I pray for you most is that you take this one nugget of my wisdom and do this one thing – devote yourself to growing in your grace and knowledge everyday.

2 – Chose your friends wisely. I can’t say I always did this either. I like to have fun and have always gravitated towards people who were “fun.” What I found is that those relationships are fickle, empty and temporary. Being the social butterfly that I am, I have made connections with a broad and diverse network of “friends” and what I have learned is that my born-again, God-fearing, fully-committed Christ followers are the most loyal, honest, genuine women and I can trust them with my life. They speak truth that sometimes hurts, they hold me accountable to what God’s Word says and they don’t compromise. They epitomize tough love. They help me be the best version of me and help me grow. They accept my faults and shortcomings and most of all, they are forgiving, loving, and a living example of grace; they role model how to be better in every area of my life. I pray you find them and grow with them through every season of your life. I know you have a great start and you have been wise in this area, but I simply want to encourage you to be diligent to seek Godly girlfriends and treasure them. On the topic of friendship, should you choose a life-mate (a.k.a. husband) I beg you to not yoke yourself to an unbeliever. The man is the spiritual head of the home and you will always desire leadership from him. God has a design for marriage and it is too long and significant of a commitment to live outside of His will in this particular area of your life.

3 – Protect your name. Proverbs 22:1 says “A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich; a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.” Your name is your identity and your actions show the world what your name means. Decisions you make have a cause and effect; a bad choice can tarnish your reputation and it takes ten times the effort to rebuild or restore – if it is even possible. The phrase, “It’s a small world” is so true and for some reason bridges burned and a bad reputation make the world awkwardly smaller. You also never know when people you have offended or the actions that cause a division will come back to bite you. Take the higher road, whenever and however you can.

4 – Forgive others, don’t carry grudges and never seek revenge. Never walk out on a job and don’t use condemning, hurtful or malicious language that cannot be retracted; no matter how mad or justified you feel you are. Regretfully, I’m sure I have demonstrated this for you in my own faults and flaws. I will never profess the be the perfect Mom, Lord knows I wish I could take back many things that I have said and done over the years. To that end, if there are any harsh words that linger in your memory and I have hurt you in the past, I pray you will forgive me. A weight will be lifted if you do and I want the opportunity to do whatever I can to apologize and take ownership for my actions – I want the opportunity to right my wrongs. We give the devil a foothold if we carry that kind of hurt and pain.

5 – Call me, talk to me and let me know you are thinking about me even if it is a heart emoji. (Selfishly daily, but weekly at a minimum please.) Whatever time you give me from this day forward I will cherish. I know your life will be busy and I am going to be the last person you think of when you are focused on your career, your life, your future, but I am your Mom and know I will be thinking about you everyday and praying for you fervently. If we could find one event a year (Mother-Daughter Retreat, Bible Camp, shopping day or some other crazy adventure), let’s make it a priority to start and keep a tradition so we can stay close and continue to build great memories. Our relationship requires time together and experiences to build upon so we can continue to grow together. If you have your own children someday you will understand; for now, if you could please grant this request, I promise you will be glad you did someday.

6 – Set aside Sunday as a day for church and the opportunity to step away from the busy-ness of life. Yes, God’s Word says it and God will bless you for honoring it, but one thing I have found is that keeping Sunday free of other commitments gives you a chance to renew and refresh. You’ll be a better friend, student, employee and person. I love to use Sunday’s to do things that build up (like bills, reading, meal planning, yard work, etc…) At different stages of your life the stuff that builds up will look different, but the one day to focus on it truly sets you up for success all week long.

7 – Lastly…. Volunteer! You have been blessed beyond your imagination in health, gifts, talents, material possessions and socioeconomic status. I know I committed you to things when you were younger, but my intentions were to help you develop an appreciation for all you have, a spirit of humility and a generous, caring heart. Now you are going to have to figure out where you want to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate than you. Here is the truth about serving others – no matter how much time, energy and money that you sacrifice for betterment and help of others will always bless you far more than you can ever be a blessing to others. It’s one of the most ironic paradigms that exists in this world; what you pour into the lives of others will come back into your own life ten-fold. If you ever want to experience true fulfillment and the greatest sense of joy, make this one of your life’s goals. I promise it will change your life for the better.

My hope is that you don’t read this as a list of tasks to be accomplished or a lecture from a Mom who thinks she knows everything, but that you receive it from my heart. I tried to be as succinct as possible to share what I believe you need to be successful as much as it is possible to find and be successful in this world.

With all my love,

Mom

 

My Pity Party Is Pathetic

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Have you ever made a list of things that you want to complain about, even if it is just a list of random thoughts in your head? I’ll be vulnerable and share a few common themes within mine: How come I always have to take out the garbage? Am I the only person in this house that knows how to put the roll of toilet paper on the holder? and, Seriously, you just kick your shoes off in front of the door when the shoes rack is right there, just a few feet away?

Being the good Christian-in-progress that I am, I have learned to use my inside voice, but you will see that I have also learned, that even if I don’t express them verbally, God still knows my thoughts of discontentment and ungratefulness and it seems that – lately – He has been putting me in situations that humble me; keeping my heart and mind in check.

This just happened yesterday.

It was Sunday and for a May spring day, it was a bit chilly (so I was mentally whining about the weather). It was the night after the senior prom so my teenager planned to sleep in, which meant she would miss church (so I was pouting about not being at church as a family). I’m still without a job and my car payment is coming due (so I was having a bit of a pity party about my current unemployment status), but then…

I showed up to teach my 3rd grade Sunday School Class and all was going well until a young mom came to my classroom door to pick up her daughter after church. Weeks earlier, I sent all my 3rd graders an Easter card and her daughters card was returned to me. I thought I was doing her a service by reminding her to update her address with our church administrator, but her response was not one I was expecting. She looked at me with her big blue eyes and her words shook me the rest of the day, “We don’t currently have an address, we were evicted last week and we are homeless, but it’s OK, Jesus will take care of us, we’re going to be fine.”

WHAT!!!!!  Homeless?! Oh there is not enough space in this blog to record what all ran through my mind in that split second and I can’t get that beautiful 3rd grade face out of my head.  DANG!

I can say this, my attitude sure changed and will continue to change based on this new found perspective. I assure you that I will replace the next toilet paper roll with a cheerful demeanor, and that overflowing garbage will be delivered to the bin with a little bounce in my step. That tired teenager who rolled herself out of bed at 2-something in the afternoon, I lavished with words of love and affirmation and expressed a genuine interest about how her night went while debriefing her about the highlights of my day at church. Oh, and this job search I’m enduring… it’s as if God is proving a point that He is my provider and guess what, car payment schmar payment – I have a roof over my head, food in my refrigerator and a mailbox at the end of my driveway. How dare I be ungrateful, how dare I worry or be concerned about anything. “Oh wretched Israelite that I am…”

So just when you think you are entitled to a complaint or two, just wait. God has a way of bringing us to a place of humility, and all of a sudden life really isn’t so bad. That list of complaints that drain us of fulfillment and bury us in self-pity are not of God. Each person God places in front of us gives us the opportunity to serve, encourage, support and build up. In the process we learn and glean far more when we get ourselves out of the picture and pour ourselves into the lives of others. We don’t know what people are going through and what circumstances they are cooping with; chances are, your “stuff” isn’t so bad when you stack it next to someone Else’s “stuff.”

Oh, dear Lord, I am so sorry for my selfishness, discontentment, bad attitude and ungrateful heart. Thank you for reminding me that it’s not about me and will never be about me. Please continue to provide for this Mom and bless her for her confident, unwavering faith. May my shortcomings teach others to be more aware of those around us and be encouraged themselves to live in humility.

Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

 

When Did Doing The Right Thing Go So Wrong?

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What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” Acts 5:4b

Last night I attended a fundraiser for CASA of the Fox Cities. As we were leaving the event I found a total of $19 dollars scattered on the floor. I asked a man closest to me if it was his and he said, “No, keep it.” Another woman within an earshot said, “Here”, with her hand extended, “Give it to me, I’ll give it to the bartenders as a tip.” I graciously declined both offers and preceded to the registration table to give it to the C.A.S.A. staff. My hope and intention was that the owner of the money would inquire and they could return it to that individual. As I explained this to the staff they stood frozen, starring at me in disbelief; they couldn’t believe I wasn’t just pocketing the money. Moreover, I told them if the rightful owner didn’t claim it that they should keep it as a donation to the cause. I could still feel their eyes affixed to me as I walked out the door.

As I drove home I analyzed people’s reaction. I was, and still am, amused. The first person took the “finders keepers” approach and even quizzed me of what size denomination it needed to be for me to keep it, “What if it was $100 dollars he said?” I replied, “It isn’t mine, maybe I would keep it if it were a penny.” He was baffled. The second wanted to take matters into her own hands, which was not a bad option actually, yet all of them were stunned that someone was actually trying to being honest.

Really? The world has gotten to the place where honesty is shocking?

The timing of this happening is perfect, because it ties in perfectly with the lesson I am teaching my class of 3rd graders today. Ananias and Sapphira did not tell the truth. Instead, they lied. God took their foolish dishonesty and used it to teach us that we need to be honest and tell the truth all the time. I asked the kids what they would have done and reminded them that God sees everything that what we do, think and say. I could have kept the money, nobody would have known, or seemingly cared, but I didn’t feel right about that – it wasn’t mine.

I could have given it to the bartenders as an act of generosity and appreciation, but I didn’t feel right about that either. Instead, I felt was the right thing to do was to attempt to find its rightful owner and, even today, I am at peace with my decision. I hope my story and God’s example from Acts 4:32-5:11 teaches all of us to be honest, not lie or try to hide/cover up our actions.

Perhaps the easiest way to be set apart for Christ is by our shocking, counter-cultural actions. Maybe, just maybe, we can turn their stunned looks into a curiosity that opens a conversation about who we are and why we’re different. As Christ followers, I am convinced that we say so much more with our actions than our words so let’s show who Christ is, not stand on a platform of persuasion. I hope that $19 was returned and someone out there was grateful for my honesty, but if they didn’t, I hope all of us can feel good about helping an organization, even in a small way, that helps children as Court Appointed Support Advocates (CASA).

A special thank you the the board, committee members, CASA advocates and the Appleton Airport for hosting such a fun, worthy and impactful event.