I Will Use My Gifts

I’m sorry, God. You gave me extra sensitivity to people’s feelings and emotions. What good is that gift if I don’t go out and use it? Feeling sorry for someone can take me to a dark place, but You also gave me a strength I forget I have. You have given me all the equipment I need to help others and be a good influence on their lives, but I can’t do anything by sitting in my house.

My purpose here is not fully known to me, but it won’t be until I go do what I know I can do. I can’t change all the injustices in the world, but I can start in the areas You gave me a passion for. Those will take me to the next ones until all is fully revealed.

Reading posts and the comments on social media is never going to uplift me and give me answers. I am never going to see people fighting there and feel fulfilled. What I need is to shut all that out and focus on You and Your answers. Searching through my experiences, personality, strengths, and weaknesses will tell me more about what I personally can do than a cutting remark from one stranger to another.

Talking about my beliefs without knowing any of the people these ideas affect will not help me learn and grow and know truth. Looking someone in the eyes while I listen to their story will help me find ways I can be useful in this world. There are hurting people all around me if I stop long enough to look. I am sorry for not looking deep enough. I am sorry for taking an “I’m fine” at face value.

I belong in a community that needs my talents and my voice. I should be speaking up for the ones who can’t or are too scared. It has been too long that I have sat silently.

My apology will only take me as far as the actions I now take, and I know that. With Your guidance, I will help those who need me. You are always by my side, and from now on we will go out and love people together.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Go and Learn What This Means

We are probably all familiar with Matthew 9. The pharisees in all their blind pharisee-ness asked why Jesus was eating with sinners. We can all roll our eyes here, but Jesus didn’t. He wouldn’t even roll His eyes at us if (when) we said it today. Instead, His answer blows me away still.

Jesus told the pharisees that He had come for the sick, not the healthy, in verse 12. But then the part that gets me is verse 13, “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” He wants us to show love and kindness instead of proving how holy and perfect we sometimes think we are.

There was an assignment given to Jesus’ listeners and us today: “Go and learn what this means.” He knew we wouldn’t get this right and that it would take a lifetime of trial and error. He knew then, like He knows now, that we are slow learners. We try to do the right thing and be an example of virtue. We get caught up in trying so hard that we lose sight of helping those who need us. We essentially tell them, “Hold on, Imma going to get to your problem as soon as I show God and all you people how great I am.” Sometimes we deny ourselves thinking it makes us more holy when what would have more impact would be to reach out.

The best part of this is that it is never too late to start doing good. Even if we got off on the wrong track and only worked on getting our own house in order, we still have time to eat with “sinners.” Even if we ignored everyone’s needs around us because those vacations weren’t going to deny themselves, God is patient with us. There is plenty of room for living a good life AND bringing food to a hurting neighbor.

I’ll be honest. If I were Jesus, I probably would have blasted us off the earth by now. I’d rip off my sunglasses and throw them across the room. (Not sure why I picture myself needing sunglasses, but I do. So they’re in the scenario.) I would pick up my nearest Bible and thumb through all the verses and passages that spell out what is asked of people. I’d mumble to myself how I just want them to love me and love each other. I requested for people to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with me. I would want them to not judge others’ sins as worse than their own and instead tell those people what I have done in their lives. I would want them to invite people who are different than them over to their houses so they could find all the ways they are the same. But no, Jesus keeps giving us chances to catch on.

So, we are here another day. Why? To keep learning what Jesus meant when He said, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” He would rather compassion than a pretty life. He wants us to step into someone else’s shoes and not shine our own. When we mess this up, the important thing is to try again. And again. Never stop trying to get love right.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Being Kind Never Hurts

Tough days happen. They can spring up out of nowhere or happen for reasons you know. Even understanding that not all days are going to be sunny and happy doesn’t really make you feel better. Neither does knowing that these times will end. What will matter in these times is your attitude.

The important thing to remember on the hard days is to ask this question: Am I spreading more good than bad? Looking out at those around you rather than looking inward takes the focus off you and your problems and helps you regain perspective.

Sometimes there is nothing you can do to make a situation better. You have to just let it work itself out. Why worry when you can work? Get out there and help someone. Just because there is nothing you can do in your own life doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do in the world.

On the days where everything is coming together it is easy to be kind to others and be courteous and helpful. The skill comes in when life isn’t going your way and you choose to be positive and helpful anyway. Anyone can be happy in the good times but it takes maturity to look outside your own situation and show others kindness. If you don’t take the time to reach out, there is a good chance no one will either. A person who needed you will suffer. You aren’t benefited by remaining in your own head either. If you choose to worry away your time instead of helping someone else, nothing will improve.

So smile even when you don’t feel like it. Write a note encouraging someone. Help someone carry their groceries. Visit someone who needs a friend. Be the someone they need to get through their time, and who knows: maybe they will be who you need one day.

Hard times are inevitable in this life. Don’t be someone who holds onto them and nurses them until they take on a life of their own. Instead, be someone who goes out and loves. Show the world that this day doesn’t define you. This hard time will pass, but the impact of your reaction to it will possibly last a lifetime. Make it count.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Help Anyone and Everyone

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses. (Proverbs 28:27)

These days I feel like we are fighting a war within our country. Do we take care of our own citizens or do we help those who need it around the world? Should we feed the homeless, give the best medical care to veterans, and keep single mothers working so they can keep their families together? Do we need to accept all the refugees, feed starving children, and help the widowed and orphaned in another country? Everyone seems to have a different opinion.

I think the Bible makes it clear what God’s stance is: help others. God doesn’t seem to care so much whether someone is our next door neighbor or lives on the opposite side of the globe. He wants us to see needs and fill them.

Give money to a homeless person you walk by-awesome.

Deliver a meal to a family whose mom just had surgery-awesome.

Sponsor a child in Africa-awesome.

Buy fair trade items so a family can stay together-awesome.

There is no degree of awesomeness. If you help one person, you are helping God. Period. You aren’t more right than someone who helps differently than you. The only way someone is wrong is if they do nothing. We are all aware of how bad many people’s lives are. If we spend all of our time and money on ourselves, our lives won’t be fulfilling and other people will suffer.

My suggestion is to pick a cause that is important to you. Orphans, veterans, animals, women, homeless, and special needs. There are so many and at least one of them will call out to each of us. We are all put here with different passions and ideas. None of us have the same experiences and talents, so it is important that we all get in the game.

When I think of what makes my heart cry the most, it is families. I long to keep families intact when possible. I love purchasing fair trade products so women have jobs and are able to support their families. These women need training and education so they can continue to be moms. I love our sponsorships with organizations like Compassion so kids can get an education and food while living at home. I think we need to strengthen families here in the US too.

God wants all of us to contribute. We need to think of what issues He has placed on our hearts and do something about them. Whatever is the biggest burden we carry, that is where we individually should focus. Instead of saying someone else is wrong, we should try to make the world better, however we can.

When we see the pain in the world, people don’t need us blaming and name calling. They need our assistance. There is no right or wrong answer in who we should help. You do your part, and I’ll do mine. If we all work together, we can help the whole world. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Children are More Important Than Adults

Every year, more than 400,000 children are in the foster care system in the United States. Let that sink in. Hundreds of thousands of children are removed from their homes. The reasons may be different, but the outcome is the same: confusion, fear, anger, and loneliness. Many kids go back home, but many don’t.

The foster care system has been on my heart for some time now. My heart breaks when I think of a child who wants love and stability. Maybe they had it and it was taken away, but maybe they have never had it. There must be an ache deep inside that they carry around. It must be brutal.

My husband and I have been talking about it and may decide to foster. For now I want us to go through the training so the girls and I can babysit foster kids. I know parents can’t just have anyone watch their kids, so that is one way we can help.

Our latest idea is one that we will need help to do! Birthdays should be celebrated for every one, especially children. We all have a need to feel special, seen, and loved. We want to know that someone remembers our birthday! People who choose to foster children have a burden on them and paying regular bills stretches them. Even if they want to spoil the child for their birthday, they can’t always do it financially. That must break their hearts. That is where we come in.

We want to serve foster parents by helping with birthday gifts. I know where we live there is help with school supplies at the beginning of the school year as well as assistance at Christmas. There should be at birthdays too. We should celebrate that these children came into the world! They should feel appreciated and wanted, especially if they never have before.

Our family babysits to raise money, so our new project is to help foster kids gain self esteem through their birthday. No child should wonder if anyone cares. We need your help though! We need to know of foster parents who need help with birthday presents. We also need people to help us provide those gifts. You can email me to let me know if you are interested in buying a gift or if you know of a foster family in need. You can mail the actual gift to me or a check to cover it, because I know fostering is a sensitive issue. I will be the only one to know the recipient’s address. My email is intentionalspending3@gmail.com. In the future I also plan on putting needs on our Facebook page. You can like it to start receiving notifications.

I believe we all want to help others. Many are worried about the state of the world and don’t know what they can do. I think we all have good intentions, but when all we have are intentions, nothing gets done. Let’s dig in and show these kids that they aren’t alone. Please help us reach kids who just want love!

Linking with Holley Gerth

Others Above Ourselves

Humility. Now there is a word we all want to claim but not when it comes to action. Our world is hurting, and we can each do so much. Not ONLY so much, but REALLY so much. We each influence so many more people on a daily basis than we realize.

Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” Those are powerful verses. Do we really do this? Do we show people that we value their comfort above our own? That we value their safety above our own? What would it look like if we did?

Our older generation would be treated with dignity and admiration. We would listen to them and show them that we value their opinion. We would care for them and put their needs ahead of our own, like they once did for us.

Our military men and women would be shown the proper honor they deserve. We would show them we appreciate their service and dedication and that we have not forgotten all they have sacrificed for our freedom.

Our neighbors would know they could count on us anytime, night or day. They would never question that if they had a need, we would be there to help them.

Our children would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they come before work, play, sleep, or even food. They would realize that we give them the best and first of everything. They would know they are special gifts who have changed our lives forever, and we don’t want it any other way.

Our spouses would see us honor the commitment we made to cherish them. They would get the best of us, not the worst. They would feel special and cared for. They would know that there is no place we would rather be than by their side. Distractions would be put away when we are in their presence.

This treatment goes for ourselves too. Let’s remember that no matter what we do or how far we stray, nothing will take us too far that God’s love can’t bring us back. Let’s live our lives secure in the knowledge that there is nothing we can do to make Him love us less. Only when we understand this can we go out and love like Him. Only this knowledge will help us make the world around us a better place.

We can do better, but it will take us laying ourselves aside so we can help others. If we take the time to lift others up, it will be noticed. It will be appreciated and the world will be better for it.

Linking with Holley Gerth

 

Let Me Show Them the Way

Children are the future, and right now, they aren’t seeing much kindness. I think the biggest thing we need to teach our kids is how to treat others with consideration. If we show them now, it could change the world.

All of us need to remember that people have feelings. Now that so much communication is done on the internet, it is easier than ever to throw words out there. We may not even really believe these words as we say them, but they are there and can’t be taken back. Kids now are growing up in a scary time and in a world that more and more needs love.

We have lost eye contact and a smile. We don’t have small gestures like a pat on the back since we can’t reach through the computer. All we have are our actual words and we have to hope they are interpreted correctly. Even when they are taken the right way, there is no emotion as there would be in a voice. It truly is sad.

This makes it all the more important for our children to learn to seek out the truth and not to go along with the crowd. They need to learn to think for themselves and not get into the mob mentality. The internet makes it easy to gang up on someone since that person has no face to our kids. Their life can easily have no meaning to a child who just wants to make their friends happy.

My girls are still in elementary school, but we talk about this a lot. The biggest thing I want them to learn from me is that their actions matter. They should treat everyone with love and respect. I don’t care if they know someone or not-they need to be kind. They need to be a friend.

The other night we were in the car (where many of the good conversations happen.) The girls don’t say much about politics, and I am glad for that. I want them to stay young and innocent as long as possible. But there is no age too young to understand the importance of treating people well. I love these talks about how they are helping the people around them. I pretty much drill it into their heads. They understand how important it is. However, I have to model it for them as well. I can’t tell them to be nice and then turn around and be nasty to someone around me. (Maybe these conversations in the car aren’t helpful. I at least try to keep road rage in check!)

When kids get it and that light bulb goes off, the world changes for them. They become more intentional with their words. They are more loving toward everyone. They make the world better. Can you imagine if all kids were taught how valuable kindness is?

It starts with me.

Linking with Holley Gerth

Empathy

I stand there alone. No one comes to talk to me, probably because I look different than them. I really don’t know. My toe makes shapes on the ground in front of me. I have done this all my life without even knowing I am doing it. Once I realize it is happening, I focus on it. It becomes my game, my way to distract myself and look busy. Sometimes I write letters and then words. I try to look like I am having fun.

None of the kids really even know my name. I think I am just “that weird kid” to them. They don’t ask about my name or where it comes from. Maybe they don’t care. When one of them looks over at me and then a whole group does too, I quickly look away. I can’t let them get to me. I can’t let them know about the tears stinging the back of my eyes. These tears threaten to drip down and that would make everything worse. I am different enough so I don’t want to be the baby weirdo.

I get back to making shapes with my toes. It’s not the most exciting thing to do, but it passes the time. It keeps me from thinking about life. I wish people knew how much we really have in common. They talk when they think I’m not listening. They talk about Minecraft, which I love to play. They wonder how Harry Potter ends, not knowing I could tell them what happens. They wish their parents didn’t treat them like babies. Me too. I am different on the outside, but I have the same emotions inside. I laugh at the same jokes. I laugh to myself of course since no one hears me.

All of a sudden I see movement next to me. I see a toe that writes an “H.” Next, an “I.” I hear a small voice almost whisper, “hello”. After a moment I realize that voice was mine. I hear it so rarely. When I look up, I see a smile. I can’t help but smile back. They tell me their name and ask if I want to come play.

All I want is a friend. I want someone to give me a chance and get to know me. I want to share secrets and laugh with someone. I want to know someone cares about me. Maybe I have found that person.

If we don’t take the time to get to know someone, we may be missing out on a great friendship. We all have more in common than we know. We all matter.

If is a Big Word

If we worked on our own marriages as much as we talked about those who are struggling in theirs.

If we taught our children what they need to know as much as we slandered the parenting of others.

If we gave someone the shirt off our backs instead of wondering what they did with their own.

If we offered to help our family members when they need it and didn’t question how this is happening again.

If we really listened to our friends without making to do lists in our minds for later in the day.

If we genuinely smiled at strangers.

If we stopped making assumptions about people’s motives.

If we helped a neighbor without being asked.

If we gave cheerfully to those in need.

If we did all of these things, the world would be a better place. But more than that, people would be drawn to us. They would wonder how we could be kind, giving, helpful, and non-judgmental. They would be curious about this Jesus who lives inside us.

If people saw Jesus in us, they would run to Him with open arms. No one can resist the love and compassion He freely gives. So many are seeking- searching for understanding and a safe place. They can’t find it in this world we live in, so we need to show them where to find it.

Are you with me?

The Sick, the Broken, the Forgotten

People everywhere are in desperate need of hope. They are wandering around searching for someone to care. Will you be the one to see it? Will you begin to show them that they are loved and seen?

There are so many times that I feel the weight of these needs is going to come crashing in on me. Like the next breath I take will bring them toppling to the ground. I need to stop thinking other people’s lives or happiness depend on me. I can’t heal anyone. I can’t give them a job or a friend or take away sadness. That isn’t my job.

What is my job? I am to do everything I can to show them love. I should open my hands to help them. Babysit their kids, have coffee and let them talk, or physically give them what they need.

My eyes should always be open and alert to those in need. Often it isn’t the ones shouting the loudest, but rather the quiet ones you don’t think twice about. I should train myself to spot pain and figure out what that person needs. I may not have money to give, but I have ears to hear and lips to speak truth and arms to hug. If I can take care of the emotional needs, they may have the strength to face the rest of their life.

If we aren’t looking past our own lives and seeing others’ pain, why are we here? What possible purpose can be greater than reaching out to help another person? There are so many people out there who have no hope and feel attacked. Or possibly worse, they feel invisible. They honestly think no one cares or loves them. What do we do about this?

Well, we can keep going and ignoring deep pain. We can keep our noses buried in our phones and say, “Not my problem,” as we walk around them. We can look the other way. We can think of someone as a caricature and not a real person.

Or we could ask how we can help them. We can listen and nod and look at them. We can hear the heart beating inside them and help them find the purpose they so desperately seek. They are people who may have taken a wrong turn or have had something horrible done to them. Somewhere along the way, they have gotten off course and just need someone to pay attention to them. There is no training required. We don’t have to be experts. We just have to have a heart and eyes that are willing to see.

Will this be me? Will this be you?

Linking with Holley Gerth