A Slap in the Face

I was at my last day of kids camp.  I had a great group of sponsors, a great group of kids only it was 100 degrees and I don’t do well in the heat.  At camp, we do a lot of the same rotations for every year, so having been there for two other sessions, I knew exactly what was coming.

We were doing this really great food packaging for the hungry.  It was cool.  A total blessing for those receiving it and those packaging it.

As I walked around taking pictures of the kids working, I noticed a gal that was working hard to let the kids help but it was throwing her way behind.  I slid my camera in my pocket and walked up to her and said, “Do you want some help?”

She said, “Do you know how?”

I smiled and said, “Yep.”

I sealed my first bag and she said, “You didn’t do it right.”

Now I’m not usually one to argue but I was hot and sweaty and I did know what I was doing but since I was crabby I said, in very unChristlike way, “Nope, I don’t know what I’m doing.  I was only trained by the guy who runs this and did it for a week, nope, I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Then I made a wise choice.  No, I didn’t apologize, I walked away.  I knew I shouldn’t have said what I did, I shouldn’t have snapped, I should’ve apologized but I didn’t.  I stepped back, got my camera out and started taking more pictures, breathing deeply to make my anger go away and remember why I was here.  I was here for Jesus and the kids.

One of the mom’s walked up to me and leaned in, she said, “You are so patient and I can tell you really love these kids.”

“What?” I said as I pictured God sitting on his throne, with a bit of sarcasm, said, “Yes, Dana, you are soooo patient,” and then a deep eye roll.

It was a slap in the face. God telling me that regardless of our excuses of “being human” or “we all have our moments” we are an example to others.  We are an example to those who are nice to us and to those who are not.  I felt bad.

I wish I could say I was this spiritual giant and went over and apologized but I didn’t.  Instead, I looked over at this mom and assured her that I wasn’t always patient and that I just about snapped the head off another sponsor.  She didn’t know that through her words, God reminded me that we are always representing Him.

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus,” Philippians 2:5 NIV

A Glimpse

Every once in a while the Lord is so gracious and allows us a glimpse into what we are doing on this earth to further his kingdom.  With so many ministers and Godly people around me I have really got a good circle of friends that I can call on, not just in our brotherhood but in other area churches.  The only problem with being surrounded with such an amazing cloud of witnesses you see ministries that are smaller then yours and you see ministries that are larger then yours.  Inevitably, you have to start fighting the fleshly nature of jealousy, envy and feeling of maybe I’m not doing it good enough.

As I conversed last week with others in the ministry I started to wonder if I was making a difference in these young peoples lives.  I prayed a prayer I always pray.  A simple prayer, really.  I ask God, am I showing Jesus to others and is it making a difference.

One night a few days ago, He gave me a glimpse into what He’s doing.  One of the kids that went to camp with us is not a Christian.  We are at youth group time at the end of the day and I always ask the kids three questions, What was your favorite part of the day?  What was your favorite part of the Scriptures you heard about?   And what did you learn from the Scriptures that you didn’t know before?  I like those because it gives you that glimpse into what the kids are thinking and how God is working in their lives.

After discussing those, I asked them if the Spirit was telling them if there was anything in their lives they need to change, is there anything that they were willing to commit to working on.  We got great answers, read Bible more, memorize more scripture, pray more and then one girl, our only gal that comes from a non-believing home, said, “I feel like maybe God wants me to be follow Him and be baptized.”

The cool thing about this is when the speaker was ending his talk, he said some of you need to make a decision to follow Him.  Then he starts picking random names and he called out her name.  She said when he said it, he was looking directly at her.

Boy, do I know that feeling.  The day Saturday night before I accepted Christ I was totally wasted.  I was approached by a Christian friend who came to our parties to preach to us and he asked me to go to church.  I said yes to get him out of my face and not ruin my buzz.  He showed up Sunday morning and after much arguing I angrily went to church.  It felt like the room cleared out and the preacher was only talking to me.  He laid out the plan of salvation and I accepted Christ that day.

So, I talked with her about wanting to follow Jesus, I prayed with her then told her we could talk to her parents.  Then the friend who brought her to church that first time months ago looked at me and said, “You’ve really changed her life.”

“What?” I asked, very confused.

She said again, “You really changed her life.  From that first time I brought her to church and then at the lock-in, the way you are with her, the way you talk to her, you’ve really helped her.”

Wow, I was truly humbled.  In ministry, we try so hard to show Jesus, to help people to be more like Him but often times as they walk out the church doors we don’t really get to see if we’ve done any good.  That night, God gave me a glimpse into my ministry for Him and He said, “You’ve done good.”  It was nothing profound that I said to her, I was just trying to show Jesus.

We are always influencing people.  Sometimes we are deliberate but most of the time we aren’t even aware of it.  It could be teaching a class, talking one on one or standing in a line at Wal-mart, be assured, people are watching you.  You may not know how you are impacting them but if our goal is to imitate Christ then they will see Him.  And when you feel like you’re doing nothing for the kingdom, He will graciously give you a glimpse.

Be Strong and Couragous

To continue on my camp adventure, God is still cracking me up.  The kids I teach to know this because I confess it all the time, I am afraid to speak in front of people.  I do it, I have a blast but my stomach is always in knots, my heart is racing and I sometimes I feel sick.

In one of the dean team meetings, we were discussing a Bible Lesson and who could teach it six times during rotation.  I loved this section of scripture and so I was so excited, telling about all the different lessons someone could teach.  The other two deans said, “Sounds like you should teach it.”

This was both exciting and terrifying but I agreed.  I felt God telling me to teach it.  I wrote my lesson, wrote a melodrama to add to it, got my props, practiced.  I was still nervous but excited.  Part of me would rather stay behind the scenes, the other part of me wants to be front and center.  I struggle with this all the time.  Usually my shy, fearful, introverted nature takes over and I stay behind the scenes.  I pray both ways, I’ll stay behind the scenes or I’ll be front and center.  Good thing God is God or He’d be so utterly irritated with me He’d walk away.

I pray, I plan, I write, I rewrite, I practiced on my son, I practiced on my own.  My lesson to teach the kids last Sunday at church was on Joshua 1, be strong and courageous, be stong and courageous, be strong and very courageous.  Yeah, it was for me.  The kids just got to listen in.  I’m strong, I’m courageous, God can and will use me, I will let Him.

Ever notice that sometimes, once you surrender everything you’re afraid of and you think you know exactly what His plan is He takes it away?  Again, He cracks me up.  I’m excited and nervous about teaching to the camp kids.  I’ve never done it and quite frankly feel inadequate with all the preachers and student ministers and children’s ministers that attend there.  The kids don’t scare me it’s teaching in the presence of so many Godlier adults then myself but I will do it.  I will be strong and courageous.

We have a meeting while the kids are on rotation, our week of camp to dean team is still a few days away.  We’re going over last minute things and notice we are teaching the same Bible story 4 times in one day.  Not good.  I finally say I could not teach my lesson but go a different direction.  We could do 30 minutes of memory work.  It’s agreed upon.  Memory work games, no lesson.  I’m both relieved and disappointed.

It was as though God was saying will you step out of your comfort zone for Me?  Will you trust Me to speak through you even if you are afraid?  Will you be strong and courageous?  Then when I surrender and I pray, prepare and practice God changed the plans.

The funny thing about this is the lesson I wrote is one of our lessons for VBS this year and there is no teacher to teach it.  I was asked on Sunday if I’d teach that lesson.  Big cheeky grin.  The lesson God wanted me to teach wasn’t for camp but God was preparing it for me to teach at VBS.  How cool is that.

Make the plans you think God wants you to do but be flexible, sometimes those plans change and God can use you and your plan in another way.

God Just Cracks Me Up

God just cracks me up.  One thing I can assure you about God is if you are a follower of Him and He wants you to do something, He will go to any length to make it happen.

I’m spending this week at camp with 5th and 6th graders.  It’s a blast but every time I do anything like this my old fear of arises.  My fear of mail time.

I can attribute this to my two times of camp as a child.  After accepting Christ when I was fifteen, I went to camp one year as a camper then the following year as a sponsor.  As a sponsor, I had just been dumped by my boyfriend and he was also at the camp as a sponsor and at mail time they had this stupid song called Around the Table sung to the old folk song My Fair Lady.  It went like this, around the table you must go, you must go, you must go, around the table you must go THEN they called out to names.  Then those two poor sorry souls must hold hands and skip around the cafeteria.  I also have a fear of getting in front of people and don’t you know those cute little innocent campers called me and my ex-boyfriend’s name.  Last thing in the world I wanted to do was skip happily around a table holding my ex-boyfriends hand in front of a hundred and fifty campers.  Ugh.  But I did it and viola, a long time hate of mail time.

As I was loading the van on Sunday to leave for church camp a mom gives me a stack of mail for her son.  I grab the pile, stash it in my backpack and off to camp we go.  Later that day I sat and went through the mail.  Now at this camp, any sponsor who gets mail must go onstage and sing a song.  Double ugh.  Okay, fear of mail time, fear of getting in front of people and really, I can’t sing.  Last year I sang I’m a Little Tea Pot.  Kids cheered.  They love to see sponsors act like fools.  J  It’s all part of the camp experience.

While going through the mail I see a letter for me.  Oh, how sweet, really, that wasn’t sarcasm.  It was so sweet of her but I knew immediately that was not going into the mail drop.  I was going to try my best to stay off the stage.  I’m co-deaning next week of camp, I’ll be up there plenty of times.  So I stash my letter, drop the one letter for the young man in the mailbox and go about the day.  Sunday, no mail call.  Monday, I drop the two Monday letters for the young man in the mailbox.  Don’t you know at mail call, they say any camper with 3 letters must sing or dance and if they are too scared, they can call their sponsor up to do it for them.  Triple ugh.  I wanted to run and hide but God wanted me on stage looking goofy.

The young man immediately calls me up, my kids are chanting I’m smiling but inside I’m frantically thinking of a song.  I really should come prepared but I must admit, I really block mail time out of my head.  In a panic, I decide on the chicken dance, the crowds sings, the young man and I dance.

God wanted me on stage and even though I tried to derail it He got me there anyway.  I’m of course laughing at Him and me.  I knew I should’ve honored this mother by dropping that letter to me in the box but I didn’t want to get on stage.  God said, I’ve got another way to get you up there.  He just makes me laugh.

Listen to God’s voice, whether He’s asking you to do something big or small, just do it because He has ways of making it happen.

Follow the Ambulance

I worked today feeling a bit overwhelmed with little stuff that had to get done.  I was thankful to get it all done but I was running about 2 hours behind.  It was an ordinary day and I wanted to see Jesus.

I went to visit a man who had a stoke a few weeks ago.  I really feel a connection to him because my grandfather had a stroke and came to live with us when I was young.  My grandfather couldn’t speak and could walk with some help.  I can feel and understand what this man is going through since I’d lived it before.

What’s kinda funny is that almost every time I visit him, he’s been moved to another room so when I walked into his room today, I don’t why I was surprised to find he wasn’t there.  I asked the front desk and they said he’d been moved to another facility.

I sighed, “Okay Jesus, I’d like to see you here, anytime.”

I found out where he was and I wasn’t quite sure how to get there.  Yes, I have modern technology, my iPhone with maps, and I got the general area but wasn’t really sure where in this neighborhood which building I needed to go to and maps wasn’t helping.  When I left the hospital an ambulance was ahead of me, driving at normal speeds.

I laughed and said aloud, “Hey God, maybe I could follow the ambulance, maybe it’s going where I am.”  It was a hint, I wanted to see Jesus.

When I put my blinker on to get off on the next exit, the ambulance did, also.  I laughed and said out loud, “I think I am going to follow the ambulance.”

Funny thing about God. He can change an ordinary day into something special so quickly and effortlessly.  I decided I was going to follow the ambulance and see where it took me.  What could it hurt?  I was already two hours behind schedule, what was a few more minutes?

I pulled into the parking lot behind the ambulance, parked and went inside.  I told the receptionist I didn’t even know if I was in the right place.  She assured me I was and pointed me to his room.  I was almost giddy by then but when I went into his room he was sleeping and his wife wasn’t there.  His bed was really low to the ground and the chairs were all full of stuff so I knelt on the ground and thought, “I’ll just stay with him for a while, pray for him, watch the tv that was blaring.”  He woke up a few times, I talked to him but he went right back to sleep so I didn’t even think he knew I was there.

After about fifteen minutes I wrote a note for his wife, knelt back down and waited.

I finally asked God, “Should I stay or should I go?  I’m really not doing any good, he’s sleeping.  He probably doesn’t even know I’m here.”

About that time he reached out, grabbed my hand and held it.  He looked at me then fell right back asleep.  I smiled.  It was not only him showing me he knew I was there but God showing me that He knew I was there.  God letting me see Him on an ordinary day.

Ask Him to show Himself, He will.

Ordinary Days

Life is made up of ordinary days.  When there is no one to pat you on the back.  When there is no one to praise you.  When there is no one to honor you.  When there is no one to see how brave and noble you are. 

Almost all of life is made up of ordinary days.  And it’s how you live your ordinary days that determines whether or not you have big moments.

Get out there and make something of your ordinary days.

(Ann Kiemel Anderson  “I’m Out To Change My World”)

 Life is made up of ordinary days.  Days where we don’t see the huge miracles of the sick being healed or the dead raised.  Days where we may not feel Christ.  But Jesus Christ is next to us every minute of every day.  His Spirit dwells in us.  He wants us to believe Him to be big and for us to ask Him to show Himself.  I don’t know about you, but I want to see my Lord.

I define miracles as not just the dead being raised, the feeding of five thousand or the blind to see.  I believe God performs miracles everyday.  Small and large.

One day, while driving home with praise music full blast, my car bit the dust.  I told Him I wanted a miracle.  I wanted to see Him.  He obliged.  He usually does.  It was a jump and down moment and I danced before the Lord.  I was telling a woman about one of my joyful God moments once and she said, “Oh, that’s just luck.”  I smiled and said, “I prefer to give God the credit.”

Then there are days when I’m tormented by a migraine.  I want to crawl in bed, smother my head in a pillow to drown out all the noise and sleep.  I pray to Him.  I cry out to Him.  I want another miracle.  I want healed.  I want my headache gone.  But He decides that this ordinary day I would trust His reasoning even if I didn’t understand it.  Even if I was in bodily pain, He wanted me to trust in Him.  My belief didn’t waver even though my joy diminished.  I questioned, I begged, He stayed silent.  He does that sometimes.  I don’t even begin to understand why, I just believe.

As we go through our ordinary days watch for Him.  He is there waiting for us to give Him the credit.  And when you see Him work in your daily lives, whether a huge miracle or a small miracle, dance before Him.  I don’t think we can begin to understand how wonderful that makes Him feel.  He loves us.  He delights in us.  Shouldn’t we just delight in Him!?!