Monthly Archives: August 2017

Because to be reachable, we must be teachable <3

 I have worked retail at different times in my life and consistently for the last eight years in our little downtown area.

I love retail; probably because I love shopping and hey…it’s like a ball player getting paid to do what he loves, right?

Plus working with the public is just a slice of life and a never ending source of stories and I do love the stories, you know…

I am also a student of human behavior (probably a part of the story-lover in me) so it’s a win-win all the way around.

Now keep in mind that having said all that does not mean tending to shoppers is always a joyous, rewarding and laugh-a-minute experience.

Oh my.

No.

There are just all kinds of moods and dynamics and personalities to be encountered and each time the shop bell rings, it’s a grab bag guess as to how the next few minutes will progress.

But there is one type of shopper in particular I have been thinking of while finishing my second read through of Proverbs this summer.

This is the shopper who comes in the store and right off the bat announces a desperate need for assistance in making his or her purchase.

While some people ask this and are sincerely wanting advice and help, we do encounter another type of shopper who basically pleads for us to partner with them in their quest…

and then proceeds to quickly negate every single suggestion as quickly as it is delivered.

As in, almost before we get the whole thing out of our mouths.

We typically land on about three attempts with this type of customer and then will feebly suggest a gift certificate as we retreat to some other task.

Because this conversation is starting to seem pointless.

Well, that, and the fact that we are afraid we will voice the question burning on the tongue….

Why did you even ask me for ideas????

And to be fair…

I can tell you….

I have done the exact same thing above in reverse when I have been the customer…which brings me back to Proverbs.

Because Proverbs is all about seeking God’s wisdom and then listening and following it and often we are like that customer I just described.

He gives us wisdom and we come back with reasons why that just won’t work for us in our situation.

We have excuses and rebuttals and are basically unteachable and unreachable yet we continue to ask Him for wisdom and then wonder why He doesn’t answer.

One of the points of the book of Proverbs is to remind us that to be wise, we need to be open in our minds and hearts to HEAR and to APPLY God’s instructions to us.

He won’t force them on us, but He most assuredly dispenses knowledge and discernment to all who come to Him ready to listen and learn.

As we approach God through the reading of His Word and prayer and asking Him for direction, let’s keep our own preconceived notions of how He will teach us set aside so that we can truly gain the wisdom He has promised to those who seek Him.

 

Unless you become like a child…<3

Good morning to you!

I am hurrying around getting things done so I can head north and be an extra pair of hands for Rachel today.

It’s my Thursday and, even though she has a few weeks before she returns to work, I certainly don’t plan on missing out on that mess of crazy with the band of brothers and Sweet Caroline.

I will be toting some gifts with me because when they were here last week and we were downtown, they may have seen some things they wanted.

And being children, there is no filter or thought that perhaps they shouldn’t ask for them.

We had stopped in the store where I work and the owner, who is also my dear friend, gave me a jar of her husband’s new honey crop.

Graham announced that he likes honey and then asked if could they have one also.

Rachel and I scrambled to cover for his bold request, but Kim immediately said of course he could and she would bring one in so Lola could deliver it.

It might be mentioned that Emmett immediately let her know she need not bring him one as he is not a fan…

which of course embarrassed the heck out of mom and me, but Kim was unphased and laughed and said well…more honey for Graham, then.

Graham saw something good and asked for it; Kim had the capacity and willingness to meet his request at a later date.

Done and done.

We also stopped at the popcorn shop and he asked for a wax mustache and Emmett decided he needed a package of jelly beans.

Mom said no. Not today.

Request denied on this one.

Although, today, they may possibly be in a little sack with the honey waiting to be loaded in my car, but that’s another day’s story.

Again…they saw something they wanted and they asked.

They ask all the time.

When they are tired, they have meltdowns and when they are unable to do something they bring it to someone who can help.

They don’t worry that one of us will say yes to something harmful or no to something beneficial.

They just come to the one who has what they want or need or think they need and they ask.

Perhaps this was part of what Jesus was trying to tell us when He suggested we come to Him like a little child.

Perhaps we could stop overthinking what we are asking Him to do…

like deciding it is too big a task…

or too nice for us when we know who we are…

or too much in light of what we see others have…

or too little to bother God with….

or whatever other seemingly grown-up reason keeps us striving in our own strength or attempting to fill the longings in our souls out of our own puny resources…

how about we just keep going to Him…

day in and day out…

with all the flow of needs and wants.

Why not, when the God of all Creation is standing there with His hands full of good things for us….

but we are too mature, self-sufficient and independent to just ask.

This morning I have been asking for some big things from God.

Big things for our family, big things for our nation, big things for this hurting world, big things for the Body of Christ.

I don’t know how He will answer but I know He will do what is absolutely best for every request.

He is, after all, a good good Father…

and we…we are loved by Him <3

Insights from Kenya 2017 guest post by Megan Peterson

So Megan would be one of Russ’s girls.

One of a trio of young ladies that insisted on riding with Russ on any and all outings the youth group took when these lovelies were in high school.

And I have witnesses who know that as they ran across the parking lot to our Tahoe at least one would stop, look back at me kind of disappointed-like and say…

“Oh…are you going with us too, Laura?”

Kind of like … the opposite of an invitation.

And we would all laugh as I would hold up my hands and assure them I would not mess with that magic.

NO way.

Now those girls are all grown up and as beautiful as ever and in a world that is so very mixed up about what a lot of things…Miss Megan gets God’s love right…right here <3

Stillness in the Midst of Rush Hour by Megan Peterson

Photo credit to FCC Kenya Team 2017 

Do you ever have a plan A, B and maybe even C.

And often wonder how’d I ever get here, and then feel that you’ve missed everything in between?

This has been myself the last 5 years.

Consistently striving to figure out this adulthood thing, being content with experiences and directions of life.

Still, there is a yearning for peace, sense of self and trusting in His ultimate plan.

God has placed a notion on my heart for the word LOVE.

This word is often associated with an extravagant feeling, yet it can also be integrated within one’s lifestyle.

To love as a Christian, is to give to other’s those things that you would want them to give to you, if you were in their situation and not expect anything in return.

Done, marked that off the list; help people get back their independence by working in the medical field. Yet—there is so much more to this Love.

This past July, a group of 23 people ventured to Kenya, Africa with Decatur First Christian Church for a Medical Mission Trip.

Travelling hours along barren and bumpy terrain in vans to serve people with medical attention.

Certainly, serving others, along with the appreciation of western culture resources changed our lives.

However, there is one thing that impacted and shaped this weary heart.

The expression of Love through communication; both non verbal and verbal.

Example 1:

These three girls.

We gazed at each other with such curiosity: neither of us could verbally understand one another. However, the world language of a girl is to twirl with her skirt, smile and giggle.

This was our conversation.

The understanding of one another and connection to the Love of our God. No words, but being still and present His Divine plan.

Example 2: One of our Maasai Van Drivers and translators, Stonic Kopiah.

A man who dresses very “Western”, has a gentle, but strong spirit, yet he has very traditional tribal upbringing.

He is a man who became a Warrior to fulfill his family’s wishes and legacies. This means he went into the wilderness for 2 years, lived off the land and killed a Lion in order to return to his tribe.

Fast Forward, after various jobs, now drives safari vans, has 1 wife (very rare in traditional Maasai) and two children. His oldest, a girl, 25 years old and single. He made clear that he wants to give his daughter the choice to pick her spouse (Again, very rare in traditional Maasai).

This man has experienced much, was challenged often and now continues to love through many humble actions (supplying women with simple work of doing his families laundry, giving his Daughter a voice with a choice and translating to help the people in his community for the betterment of their health) and expects nothing in return.

Though, his love is clearly outlined above, he touched me with the time spent in conversation during long van rides to/from medical clinic and sitting shot gun next to him at the end of safari.

We talked about life in general, desires, morals, importance of relationships, how to drive the vans on the road and to be open, while listening to others.

Towards the end of safari, the radios sounded and a female lion and cub were spotted.

We arrive, he pulls over with the lions on my side, turns off the van with the windows down.

I quietly and hesitantly signal “the window is down”.

He replied, “Have confidence in yourself, they will not hurt you. I wouldn’t have let you keep the window down if I’ve known that they would harm you.”

Simple, yet very powerful words of Love.

Often, we rush through the day. Forgetting to simply listen, be still and communicate with God and others around us.

Trusting that the interactions of the day are meant to fuel the human souls and fortify His promise that he will provide.

For in his Word, he states, “Let all that you do, be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV

 

A big thanks to you, Miss Megan, for opening your heart and sharing how Kenya touched and changed you. Thank you for sharing part of the journey with us today  <3

Because I see those tears slipping down some sweet faces <3

I stood at the counter in our kitchen and got a lump in my throat this morning looking at the calendar.

That little girl I put on a bus an eye blink ago, will be hiding her own hot tears behind some serious sunglasses as she and Zach drop that little man off in front of a brick building and wave bravely.

I think of some other sweet mommy’s who are sending their first or their last …

off to anywhere from Kindergarten to college…

not to mention…gulp…preschool…

and I wish I could wrap all those tender hearts up and make the sting go away.

I’m not the strong one to call that morning when you’re fighting against the urge to run back into the class room, snatch that little one out of his or her desk and head on home to watch Daniel the Tiger and have some goldfish crackers in a cup and abandon all plans of education altogether.

I’m the one that when she packed her youngest off to his first day of Kindergarten couldn’t face going home to an empty house.

So she headed into the McDonald’s with a spiral notebook and a pen, grabbed a cup of coffee and sat at a table with her back to the playground.

I’m the one that sat there writing letters to all three kiddo’s telling them how much I loved them and how proud I was of this or that accomplishment while tears dripped all over the smeary, coffee-stained pages and senior citizens at tables around me looked over and tried to give me nods and concerned looks.

Now I am one of those…that gets a discount on her coffee…though being a good baby boomer I refuse to let them charge me less than full price.

Because pride goeth before thriftiness, you know.

So I will be sitting at my kitchen table this week as one by one, sweet mom’s and dad’s that I know and love start that process of another year of letting go.

I will be saying little prayers for you.

And mopping up salty tears off the surfaces around me, just as I am right now.

Bless each of you as you fake enthusiasm about all the fun they will have and pack little notes in lunches and give extra hugs.

Bless you as you watch the clock and bless you when they come home and are all tired and cranky and you wonder why you missed them so much….

Bless you as you corral them for bed and say their prayers and fall in a heap and get up and do it all again tomorrow.

 

 

Sometimes a closer look is needed

The Lord blessed me with pretty good skin genes.

For most of my teens and a good portion of my adult life I used Noxema morning and night to cleanse and pretty much nothing else to moisturize.

In my 40’s I started noticing some…uh….wear and tear so I upped my game and moved on to a cleansing and moisturizing product with a little more oomph.

And I felt pretty good about the whole thing considering I take after my mom in that department and she was doing pretty good 39 years farther down the road than me and was still on the Noxema plan.

Until we stayed in a hotel one time that had a super duper magnifying mirror and I got up close and personal with the topography and landscape of my face.

Some of the nooks and crannies had definite signs of blemishes, patches where makeup had built up and scaly dry places.

What I thought was a nice clean face needed some serious deep cleaning help.

And what I thought was well-tended was parched.

My soul can get like that.

On the surface, it looks ok… pretty good for my age and maturity level.

But God’s Word is a magnifying glass.

I open it or listen to a solid teaching on it…and suddenly I am aware of the little things that are hidden from most but not from the Most High.

It’s why I go to church and why I do morning devotions.

It’s why I continue to read and reread Scripture in different translations and ponder the footnotes and pray the passages.

It’s why I do Bible Studies and journal my thoughts before His Presence.

As we read God’s Word, hear God’s Word, apply God’s Word…we are making Him magnified in our life…and that is when we begin to see ourselves for who we are.

A couple of quotes come to mind on this…

God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.   There are several who are credited with versions of this same thought, but this one is from Max Lucado

and

For the Word of God is living and active.

Sharper than any double-edged sword,

it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit,

joints and marrow;

it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Hebrews 4:12-13

It is when I magnify God’s Word and look deeply into it that I begin to see my own thoughts, motives, attitudes more clearly in His Light of Truth.

And I am thankful that when those blemishes and scales, wrinkles and flaws are exposed…

when I point them out to Him who has already seen them and loves me still..

He is faithful and merciful to forgive me and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness.

I hope as we see so much ungodliness in the world around us we are not forgetting to examine our own selves first and foremost in the mirror of God’s Word and allowing His cleansing to renew us more and more into His image.

The washing and renewing are in His hands…are we not highly blessed?