Monday, September 20, 2010

Small Beginnings

I love the quote from Mother Teresa, "Ek. Ek. Ek.", which directly translated from Hindi means, One. One. One. More often than not, my dad has had to admonish me to stop trying to eat the whole elephant at one time. I see the whole picture and can become overwhelmed. I can't see or imagine how it will all get done and work out, even though, somehow, it usually does.

As I type this, Josh Groban is in the background singing, "You raise me up so I can stand on mountains. You raise me up to walk on stormy seas...." Everyone knows, you only get to the top of that mountain, one step at a time.

It is with one step in the right direction and much tenacity, I have observed fellow believers to be flourishing and spreading their wings in my hometown and its surrounding communities. Thus, I am reminded to not despise small beginnings.

Sunday, I had the pleasure of visiting a new church, only 6 minutes down the road from where I live. A friend of mine was preaching. Traveling south, I saw the sign for Bridge Builders Community Church and turned left into the parking lot of the school they rent space from. As I pulled up towards the building, I saw about five or six vehicles. When I walked through the side entrance of the school, I saw a large rectangular table with a variety of literature and information about the church and other services. One of the women walking towards the meeting area, pleasantly welcomed me. I could hear guitars playing on the other side of the bluish green partition.

My friend, Jay, welcomed me with a hug and explained the rest of his crew was home sick, including his dear wife, Chris. Shortly after, Pastor Tim walked in and greeted me with a great smile, pleased to see I had come. Although there were not more than 25 people there in all, there was a pleasant sweetness. Bridge Builders began just two years ago this month. With a clean up day planned for next month and a variety of other activities shared during the announcements, I could easily tell these were people looking to bless others and declare a message of hope and healing.

It brought me back to my younger years as a teenager, when my family was meeting in a small home church setting in the city. The couple from Missouri had relocated to the area to plant a church and started in their home. We were small for quite a few years, but gradually grew and as God led, became part of another church which rented different places, before finally buying our own building.

After Pastor Charles had retired and moved back down south to be closer to his family, we united with a larger church in the city. Today, we are part of a congregation with over 300 people. We reach out into the city to meet the needs of the people in our community and love people to Christ.

It is exciting to see that other churches are sprouting up in neighboring towns outside of the city to do the same. Many hands make light work. With believers spreading out and sharing the love combined with a message of healing, there's no telling what will be accomplished in the years to come. There's no telling and no stopping. It's good to remember, one. One. One.

From little acorns, mighty oaks do grow.

Proverbs 14:23, "All hard work brings a profit.."

Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Turn, Turn, Turn

So long summer. It's finally over. This morning's air had a bit of a chill to it, refreshing, but beckoning me to stay huddled beneath the covers. This evening, was the first Open House at school. It's the night parents get to visit the teachers with their children and see what it's all about. So, goodbye summertime.

Upon arriving home late and firing up my PC, I decided to change my desktop background. Bye, bye photo of the brightly colored Begonia, resting outside on my stoop and hello ocean. Yes, the ocean. I'm not quite ready for those orange and yellow leaves to appear and fall.

After a long day at school, I wanted to go back to the beach. Looking out at the ocean from the boardwalk, clouds a bit grayish white and the waves calm and comforting, I felt renewed. I uploaded the vacation shot, resumed my full size desk top,and instantly felt as if I really was back, standing on the boardwalk. I could sense the lulling of soft waves and imagine the gentle breeze blowing. Sometimes, that's all it takes.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 reads, "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven..."

Tonight was a night for meeting some new parents and gathering with others I've known for some time. It was fun and a bit sad. Why? Because summer is gone and soon my garden, along with the rest of nature, will near it's end and begin to cease growth.

Yet the beach will remain and our sun and moon never cease to shine. There are variables and there are constants. I am not sure where I am going with all this, but I do know in a period of change, we all need some consistency. Something rock solid to hold on to is like a warm blanket and teddy bear wrapping itself around you. It's a shelter in the time of storm.

Hebrews 13:8 reads, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."

Furthermore, Isaiah 25:4 reads, "You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat."

I long for the warmth of summer and relaxing days of strolling the boardwalk down by the sea, but even more so, the One who ceases to cease. I thank God for those constants that will never cease to be.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Read the Directions

Laying in bed this morning, I thought to myself, "Mmmm, I think I want pancakes this morning. Yum!" So I rolled out of bed and trotted into the kitchen, pulling out all the ingredients needed. I found I only had enough mix to make three pancakes, which was fine because that's all I would eat anyway with the maple syrup in the cabinent. There was just enough.

I flipped the pancakes onto my round, white correl plate and poured the maple syrup on. "Oh, no! Yuck," I blurted out. Onto my fresh piping, hot pancakes came a thin film of greenish, gray mold with the Vermont Maple Syrup. So much for pancakes. Luckily, it did not get over all of them and I was able to salvage part of my freshly made breakfast. Strawberry preserves would have to do instead. I picked up the bottle of syrup and looked on the back. In fine print it read, "Refrigerate after opening." I never thought to put it in the fridge. I just figured it would be fine like the syrup you find in the pitchers at IHOP. The obvious lesson here was to read the directions.

Which brings me to a new opportunity I've been presented with. An opportunity to pursue getting to know someone beyond casual friendship. To be more direct, it's a guy. Yes, a guy I was introduced to by a dear friend last year sometime. What will come of it? I don't know and I am not sure what I want to come of it just yet.

As the years have gone by and I've gotten older, I began to wonder more recently if I was just meant to be single and that was it. Not that I didn't want to meet someone or have a family, but for so long and after so many disappointments, one can't help but think, "Perhaps this is just the way it's supposed to be." In addition, I've felt a leading towards some type of mission work for quite sometime now. I remember reading something from Elisabeth Elliot about how some are meant to walk a life fully devoted to God, in deeper relationship with Him, so that others in the body of Christ may benefit. Although she has been widowed twice and married three times, Elisabeth has spent most of her adult life as a single. She has served as a missionary, author, and teacher. However, in her book, Let Me Be a Woman, she expressed to her daughter that one of her greatest joys and fulfillment as a woman, has come through being a wife and mother.

It is clear to me, that both marriage and singleness are gifts given to different people at different times. After meeting the yucky film of mold from the Vermont Maple Syrup bottle this morning, I was reminded to check the ingredients and follow directions even more so. I know, far too many marriages that have ended in divorce these days. Not to mention, the relationships that don't result in marriage, but still cause much heartache for those involved. Why? As my pastor from many years ago stated,"They don't follow the Book!"

Matthew 19:5-6 reads, "..'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate." Most truly, it was never God's heart for divorce to enter the picture.

I do not know where this opportunity will take me. I have no doubt that he and I were meant to meet and develop a friendship. Time and God will both tell where things will lead. Until then, I am going to begin a more in depth study of what the Good Book says about relationships, singleness, and marriage as I prayerfully consider what to do.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Labor of Love Spread

I love flowers, lot's of them. There is such diversity amongst them-large, tiny, scented and non, dainty, or voluptuous. It's no wonder I can't name one as my ultimate fave's. They are simply beautiful, brightening our world and individual lives daily.

Hard to believe I waited so many years before asking if I could plant some outside my apartment. Each day I walked down the path, I ignored the 12x3 rectangular plot in front of our building, as it was filled with weeds. Each day, that is until my friend, Ellen from the laundry room, ecstatically shared about the new community garden she started over by her building. She planted brightly colored orange and yellow marigolds under our complex apartment sign. The neighbors now take turns watering. That simple act got me to thinking, maybe I could plant some flowers over by me. So I called the rental office and asked. The response? One of pure delight.

"We would love it if you planted flowers over there," gleamed Mr. Seagrem. I had never heard this man so happy. Yesterday, when I saw him as I dropped off the rent check, he offered to reimburse me for the plants. He was thrilled with the beauty of this new garden and so appreciated the time and effort that went into it. I told him, "Ellen inspired me when she planted the flowers under the sign, so I hope it inspires others because it adds so much."

Earlier this morning, I spent time weeding, watering, and fertilizing. I love it! The cost for such beauty is minimal compared to the results gleaned. Each day I discover a new bud or blossom on one of the plants. I am so thankful for the gift of these flowers. Flowers thriving, rejoicing, and most definitely inspiring. Inspiring others to create, labor, and spread the love. Now I have another friendly neighbor, Tony, who has taken an interest as well. He helps with the watering.

No act of kindness or labor is ever fruitless. Instead it leaves a footprint in the sand of the Savior who brings health and beauty to wherever He passes through.