Friday, October 15, 2010

When She Found Him

While she thinks her mother isn’t looking, she leaps happily from sofa to sofa, her Super Woman cape, a towel tied around her neck, flying in the air behind her. From the very beginning Marie Orozco says that her daughter Lorraine always loved to sing. One time, at two years of age Lorraine got lost in a department store. Marie found her little two-year-old by listening to her little voice singing the theme song to The Brady Bunch under some clothing rack. By three years old, Lorraine was a very happy and energetic little girl. Clearly her parent’s, Santiago and Marie Orozco adored her. She was her daddy’s little princess and her mamma’s whole world.
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Everything changed in the Orozco household one Christmas Eve. It started out as a joyous occasion. Lorraine’s aunt, one of her mom’s sisters was getting married. Lorraine was one of the flower girls. Lorraine says she doesn’t remember much of the actual wedding itself. Just that her and her cousin were wearing matching red dresses and she distinctly remembers that even back then she was not fond of the color red and would have preferred to be wearing pink or purple. When it was actually time for her and her cousin to go down the aisle, instead of slowly, gracefully walking down the aisle like they were supposed to, they ran.
After the wedding everyone went to her grandparent’s house for a time of celebration. Lorraine was running around playing with her cousins, screaming and laughing, just carrying on like little 3-year-olds do. As they were playing, Lorraine’s 15-year-old uncle was backing up her grandfather’s pick up truck, loaded with wedding gifts, to the back porch. Little Lorraine decided that she wanted to ride with her uncle in the truck so she just ran behind the truck and grabbed on. However, her uncle never saw her run out and grab a hold to the truck.
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Lorraine tried to grab on to the tailgate that was open on the truck. Instead she felt herself being pulled under the truck as it began to back up. Her body began to be crushed under the back tire of the truck. Her face stuck into the ground as dirt and rocks smashed into her eyes, tearing at her flesh. As she lay there, crushed beneath the back tire, she remembers seeing her dad and another uncle tearing out of the house. Lorraine will never forget the look of horror on their faces. They began screaming, waving their arms and yelling frantically for her uncle to back up so they could get her out.
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When Marie got word of what had happened, she thought for sure her daughter was dead. She says that when she saw her little girl lying there, she felt an extremely sharp pain in her heart that she has never before or since experienced. She ran over to Lorraine even more horrified by what she saw. Her baby was lying there on the ground, her eyes shut, and her head tilted to one side as blood trickled out of her mouth. As she looked at her precious little baby, all Mommy could do was scream from deep inside the depths of her soul. For a moment everything seemed to freeze. Time stood still. The next thing Marie remembers is frantically running to the house calling 911.
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Lorraine’s 15-year-old uncle had absolutely no idea that he had just run over his niece. As soon as he stopped the truck they scooped her up. Daddy carried his broken little princess to the car and she was immediately rushed to the nearest hospital.
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That Christmas Eve night, while everyone else was singing Joy to the World, while children everywhere were waiting with great anticipation to open presents in the morning, a little 3-year-old girl lay in her hospital bed in pain, scared and confused. Everyone kept touching her and she could hear whispers, “She can’t move or feel her lower body.” Everyone wanted to pinch her legs to see if she really couldn’t feel them.
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As the days passed, the doctors and nurses tried everything they could do to fix her, but it was no use, the lower half of her body had lost all its feeling. Two weeks later she was sent home to face the world in a little silver wheelchair. Never again would she leap from sofa to sofa, never again would she run freely with all her cousins and friends, forever labeled as a cripple, forever known as the girl in the wheelchair. Lorraine Marie Orozco was paralyzed.
However, somewhere in the middle of all the hurt and confusion, Lorraine found solace in what the accident had not taken, her ability to sing. “It was my way of escape, and I thank God for it because no one could take that away from me.” So through it all, little Lorraine continued to sing.
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Santiago and Marie were absolutely devastated. They were determined that some way, some how, their little girl was going to walk again. In their desperation they began to try all different things on their daughter to try and make her whole. They took her to every doctor, healer, therapist and specialist known to man. They did everything from creams and pills to shock therapy and even a witch doctor. The Orozcos were desperate, so very desperate to see their little girl walk again. But no matter how hard they tried, nothing ever worked. This only devastated them more. They were determined and desperate to make Lorraine walk again.
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However, it was also this very same desperation that drove the Orozcos to the best thing that could happen to them, faith in God. It was at this time in their lives that they began to notice a spiritual desperation inside their hearts. They began to do a Bible study and were astonished by the things that God began to reveal to them. In November of 1984, Santiago and Marie Orozco surrendered their lives to God as they were baptized in Jesus name and soon afterward filled with the Holy Ghost.
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Their little girl’s accident had caused them to find Jesus and because they had found Him, they had also found the one could make their daughter would walk again. In their desperation, Santiago and Marie discovered a sure way for their daughter to walk again. By surrendering their lives to God and raising Lorraine in the truth, they made it possible for her, to without a doubt know, that one day, even if it is on the other side, she will walk again.
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Today Lorraine is a beautiful woman of God. She just recently celebrated her 24th birthday, for the sixth time. Those that are close to her describe her as strong willed, slightly stubborn, courageous and just overall amazing. She is not afraid to stand in the face of adversity. Her youngest brother Eric says that his sister is one of the strongest people he has ever known. “She just won’t quit,” he says with a laugh. “I think it’s because of her that I have made it to where I am today. When I’ve been at my lowest point, I would think, I can’t quit, because Lori wouldn’t quit.”
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One thing about Lorraine is that she has always been determined. Shortly after the accident her parent’s heard of a brace called a recipricator, with crutches, this body brace would allow Lorraine to walk. The brace encased her body and with the proper movements from the top of her body it would move her legs.
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Well, one day, when Lorraine was about 6-years old, her family was looking at model homes. While her parent’s were speaking to a sales agent, Lorraine noticed the stairs. As she noticed them, she decided that they looked like fun and she decided that she would like to climb them and so she did. When she got to the top of the stairs, she hollered down to her parent’s, grinning at them proudly. Her parent’s gasped, shocked and surprised to see their little girl who could not walk at the top of the stairs. Of course as proud as they were of her accomplishment, her mom still practically had a heart attack.
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It is that same determination in Lorraine has caused her to continually defy the odds in life, also continually giving her mother mini heart attacks along the way. It is determination that has allowed Lorraine too accomplish all that she has in life. It is determination that caused her to graduate from public high school with honors and to sing the national anthem at her graduation. It is determination that pushed her to learn how to drive in high school, just like the rest of her peers. It is determination that made her decide to live independently on the University of Arizona campus. It is determination to live that has brought her through numerous life-threatening back surgeries. It is determination that has cause Lorraine to write two books sharing her life story. It is determination to make a difference in her world that causes her to tell her testimony to others. It is determination that sent her to two years of Bible College in Jackson Mississippi where she studied music sang in the choir and taught Spanish. It is determination that made Lorraine decide to travel across the ocean, to another continent, where most things are not wheelchair accessible, to tour the beauty of England and help share the love of Jesus.
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Despite her wheelchair, Lorraine still manages to get in just as much shopping as any other girl. She loves hair accessories, cute purses and has a fetish with multiple pairs of glasses and sunglasses. She has a passion for Starbucks and firmly believes they should stay open 24 hours a day. Blogging, Facebook, twitter, emails, texting, long phone conversations, Lorraine does it all. She enjoys making tamales with her family at Christmas time. Come January you can be sure to find her at H&R block doing peoples taxes. She helps teach with her brother their youth cell group and when not writing or singing, she can be found studying music, teaching piano lessons or driving to Cheesecake Factory in her cherry red Mustang. It is easy to see that Lorraine lives a very productive and fulfilling life.
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Lorraine says that she never forgave her uncle for what happened, simply because she has never felt any anger towards him. She said that her parent’s never displayed any anger and so she never picked anything up herself. Her parent’s always taught her that it was an accident and because of that she has never felt a reason to be mad.
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During her life, Lorraine has been prayed for many times for healing in her body. She spent much time in tears growing up, praying and pleading with God to give her the ability to walk, but God never chose to go that route for Lorraine. As an adult, Lorraine has come to a full acceptance that although God, without a doubt in her mind has the ability to heal her, He has chosen not too. She says that she no longer prays for healing. “It’s not that I have given up on God,” she says. She just trusts that the way she is right now is what God wants for her at this time.
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However, one thing that really bugs her is that people are still trying to get her healed. Its like she has accepted God’s will for her life, but other people can’t. Instead of focusing on all that she can do, they focus on the one thing she can’t do, the ability to walk. People are uncomfortable with seeing her in a wheelchair, so they want to try and “fix” her so she can be like them. Lorraine, does not view herself that way. She does not like she needs to be ‘fixed’. She feels that what happened to her was indeed a terrible thing to go through and while she doesn’t ‘like’ being in a wheelchair, if she had the choice she wouldn’t go back to before the accident and try to change what happened. It is because of the accident that her parent’s found God. “Yes, I would love to be able to walk like everyone else,” says Lorraine, “but don’t tell me that being able to walk is more important than my salvation.”
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Recently, Lorraine just published her second book, “He Blessed The Broken” which is the sequel to her first autobiography, “Famous In Battle”. With the encouragement of her pastor, Rev. Paul Connor of Faith Tabernacle Church in Tucson Arizona, Lorraine will be traveling around giving her testimony and singing as God opens the doors. Her goal is to raise funds to go to Barcelona Spain and teach music to people that will be sent to play in smaller home mission churches in Spain. Lorraine’s brother Eric says that he has seen his sister go places many people can only dream of going, he has seen her touch hearts in ways that others could only dream of touching.
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Lorraine says she will never forget the night at Conqueror’s Conference youth convention that a certain preacher came to her during an alter call and with little emotion on his face he grabbed her hand and began to pray with her. She says that as he prayed with her the presence of God wrapped around her. However, this preacher was not praying for her healing. She remembers him saying as they prayed that God had not forgotten her and that He was going to do great things in her life, greater than she could even imagine.
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“I knew right then that my ministry for God had only begun,” says Lorraine, and even though I couldn’t see it, eventually it would all work together for the good.” She put her feelings into a song she wrote called “I Believe”, listen as her beautiful voice sings out, “So many nights I’ve cried praying, Lord please change my situation, take this pain from my heart, then I hear you whisper in the darkness "My Child, don’t get discouraged take my hand and believe, I’m working it all for your good. Lord I believe, that eventually everything will turn out right, because you are the God that can’t fail, the God that can’t lie, I believe.” Although others might not be able to see it, in God’s eyes, even if Lorraine does one day walk again here on earth, the real healing in her life came when she found Him.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
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If you would like to buy one of Lorraine's books or to hear her speak at your church...
Contact her at aznitestar@msn.com

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Be careful little mouth

♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪
Generally speaking, I have a very good self-esteem. Although there are areas in my life that I know I need to work on and change for the better, I am also confident in knowing, that God created me with His own two hands, He breathed into me the breath of life and because of that, I am a wonderful and beautiful person. However, there has been several incidents in my life that my self-esteem was absolutely shot. Times where I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror without cringing. It was in these moments of my life, that I can remember two particular times that my self-esteem was affected in positive and negative ways, simply by the words of a person’s mouth.


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪


The first incident happened quite a few years ago at a Heritage Youth Conference. Before the conference I had found some awesome deals on clothes and had all new outfits. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to wear all my new stuff and I just knew that I would be looking so good! My self-confidence was very high starting out the beginning of that conference; it was probably higher than the clouds in the sky. However, that quickly changed by the words of a very good-looking guy, making fun of me.


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪


I didn’t know him or anything about him, but he was tall with blond hair, blue eyes and an athletic build. I didn’t actually see what happened, but my sister saw the whole thing and informed me later on. She said that he had been with a group of young people from other churches and that when I had come over to the table, where all the youth from my church were sitting, when I sat down he smirked and turned to the people he was with and pretended my chair was breaking. Then him and all the people he was with all cracked up laughing.


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪


When my sister told me all this I acted like I didn’t care, that it didn’t matter what people said or thought of me, BUT it did. I was shocked and hurt, especially since the people he was laughing with, was people I often hung out with. The rest of the conference my self-esteem was shot. It didn’t matter what I wore or what people said. They would be like, “Oh Mary, you look so pretty!” and I would smile my bubbly smile, and exclaim an exuberant, “Thank you!” But inside I was thinking, “YEAH RIGHT!” When I looked in the mirror, I would think who cares? Why even bother? Your nothing but a big, fat blob! What had made others smile had in turn crushed my spirit. Their laughter was the cause of my tears.


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪


There was another time in my life where the words of another very good looking, very handsome, young man affected my self-esteem as well, but this time it was in a positive way. It happened several years ago at another youth conference. Before attending this conference, I had recently been dumped by a guy and aside from being heart broken; my self-esteem level had gone to about zilch. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this guy had found another girl. He had moved on and I was left behind. Then to top it all off, the girl he was now with had a baby. I’m not trying to sound mean or holier-than-thou, I know we’re all human, we all my make mistakes AND I know that when we repent God forgives and its under the blood of Jesus, BUT I just couldn’t believe that he had chosen her over me. I mean she had a baby and I had never even kissed a guy! My self-image became so low it made me feel like my purity wasn’t important, like it didn’t even matter.


“Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪


It may seem brutally honest, but I’m just being real. That is how I felt, worthless. Like trash, like the fuzz between someone’s toes, like the crud on someone’s feet, the dirt under their nails. My self-esteem was by far lower than it had ever been after being slammed by that good-looking guy at Heritage. I had completely given up on my appearance. I never did my hair, hardly even ran a brush through it. I didn’t care about the way I looked. I had this one maroon jumper; with black flowers on it and I pretty much wore that all the time. My friend Janelle says that she remembers that I would wear that jumper to church on Sunday and then sure enough I would have it on again for church Wednesday night. She says that she remembers saying something to me about it, like, “um Mary, didn’t you wear that on Sunday?” She says that I would just shrug my shoulders like, whatever, who cares!


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪

And so that was the mentality I went with to this conference. I just didn’t care about the way I looked. I figured if I couldn’t get this one guy to like me, then it wasn’t like I could get anyone else to look at me. I remember on the last night, I had a date to the banquet and everything, but it didn’t matter to me. I remember we were getting ready for church that last night of conference and the girls in my room were getting all dressed up and they asked me if I was going to do my hair for my date, I just looked at them. They were like come on Mary; “You have a date, YOU HAVE TO DO YOUR HAIR!” I remember I just got my hairspray, brush and bobby pins, handed it to the girls and was like, ok then, do my hair. So my best friend did it for me. She put my hair up in pretty little rolls and put on my cute little zebra headband to match my outfit and I guess I looked good, but I honestly don’t remember thinking about it, or even glancing in the mirror. I just didn’t care.


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪


That night after service I remember walking around, mingling with my friends and socializing. While talking to some people, I noticed from the corner of my eye a very handsome young man. Now when I say handsome, I mean very, very handsome! He was by far; way better looking than the guy that had made fun of me previously at the Heritage Conference. I mean he was the kind of guy that when I saw him my heart literally skipped a beat and I didn’t think I could breath right. Every girl has that one guy that is just above and beyond any other guy they have ever met. That one guy, that they consider, the best looking guy in the world, and even though most everyone I knew didn’t agree with me, to ME, he was that one guy.


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪


As I stood there chatting with my friends, I see from the corner of my eye that he is looking at me. I think it’s just my imagination, but then I see him look again, this time he leans over and whispers something to his friend. I think, “Oh great, just another cute guy making fun of me.” But then he starts to come over to me, then he stops, glances at me again, whispers to his friend again, his friend whispers back and then he comes over. I’m trying to be casual about it, but inside I’m freaking out. I mean I’ve kind of known this guy most of my life, but just as an acquaintance and I’ve never really talked to him. He shakes everyone in our groups hands, says hi to us all, then he turns to me…


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪


I can’t remember what all he said to me, since I was quite flustered at the moment, but I remember him complimenting me on my appearance. He said something about me losing weight and he congratulated me on it. He said that I looked good. I was shocked. It happened so quickly all I could do was stand there speechless. He was what I considered, the handsomest guy I had ever seen, and he was complimenting… ME!


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪


All the girls were like, oh is that why you went and stood over there, because of him? I was like, “NO!” Honestly, I had noticed that he was at church that night, but I didn’t think twice about it. I mean, if this other girl had gotten the heart of the guy that had dumped me, there was absolutely no way in the world that I was going to be able to get the best looking guy in Pentecost to even look at me, let alone come over, shake my hand, say hi, AND GIVE ME A COMPLIMENT!


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪

This young man’s words affected me in a very positive way. I know it probably wasn’t easy stepping out the way he did and paying me that compliment. It took some guts to do it, but because he did, I went home from that conference a different person. Aside from developing an even bigger crush on him, my spirit was lifted and my self- esteem began to be restored.


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪


After that night I became determined to care about the way I looked. We had Saturday night prayer meeting the next day after conference and I was like, you know what it may just be prayer meeting but I’m going to do my hair for it. It’s been quite a few years since that happened, but I can’t remember a Sunday since that conference that I have gone to church without my hair all fixed up. (Aside from the time I overslept and had to go to church with curlers in my hair! ;) I decided I liked looking good and started doing my hair all the time even for work. My brothers would look at me and be like where are you going all fancy? I’m like; “work”, and they would just look at me, like I was crazy. I remember everyone at church would look at me like all shocked and just be like, why are you all dressed up? Is there going to be a cute guy here or something? I would be like nope, I just feel like looking good. Eventually, everyone just got used to me getting all dressed up for no particular reason and I think they would be more shocked now if I didn’t.


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪


However, I continued working on myself, my appearance, taking care of myself and losing weight. Of course my crush continued to blossom and I remember a lot of people telling me not to get my hopes up and that they didn’t want to see me get hurt. I was just like you know what, “I’ve already been hurt and when I look back on it all, I think, it really wasn’t worth it, and I know that it may happen again, but it’s ok, because this guy is so worth taking that risk.” As time went on that guy never did return my interest, but he did become my friend. And even though I know, he knew that I liked him, he was never rude to me and he always treated me with respect.

♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪

Eventually, I got the hint, I realized that he wasn’t interested in me and even though I was disappointed and I cried a few tears, I was ok. Because of the way he treated me, my spirit wasn’t crushed and my self-esteem was still intact. Looking back, I can say, “he was worth it” and if I ever have the chance to talk to a girl he is interested in, I would give him the highest recommendation to her and sincerely mean it. Yes, I truly believe that God used the kindhearted words, of a good-looking young man that day to restore my self-esteem.


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…” ♪


The Bible has a lot to say about the words that come from our mouth. James says, “ Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.” (James 3:5-6) It’s so easy for us to let unkind words slip out of our mouths without even thinking about it, to call someone ugly or some kind of rude name and if their feelings get hurt we act like they are the one with the problem, because, “they don’t know how to take a joke.” Sarcasm is considered cool and yeah, to some degree sarcasm can be funny, but it’s not a trait I would personally want to be known for.


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…”


What does sarcasm mean? Sarcasm means, expressing or expressive words of ridicule that wounds (wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn). Sarcasm is the rhetorical device of using a characterization of something or someone in order to express contempt. It is closely connected with irony, in that the two are often combined in the same statement (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarcastic). Sarcasm - is one kind of irony; it is praise, which is really an insult; sarcasm generally involves malice, the desire to put someone down, eg, "This is my brilliant son, who failed out of college." (academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/english/melani/lit_term.html) Sarcasm- a form of verbal irony in which apparent praise is actually harshly or bitterly critical (www.wwnorton.com/litweb/glossary/glossary_s.htm). According to Wickipedia Encyclopedia, the origin of the word sarcasm comes from the ancient Greek word sarkazo meaning 'to tear flesh'.


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…”


‘To tear flesh’. Something tells me that Jesus wouldn’t be very fond of sarcasm. I don’t think he would laugh it off and come up with witty little sayings about it. Jesus says in Matthew, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11: 29-30) Sarcasm just doesn’t seem to fit into those scriptures anywhere. Jesus describes himself as meek, humble and a place of rest. Furthermore, he tells us to take that same spirit upon ourselves. We should be a place of solace and rest to one another, not some kind of butcher block that tears each other down with our words.


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…”


Even the best looking, most affluent people, have their bad days. There are times in our lives where we just don’t feel like we’re all that. No one ever would have been able to guess how those words had affected me from that Heritage conference all those years ago. I acted like, I didn’t care and I seem like the kind of person that wouldn’t care. I know to some degree how to hold back the tears in public, but the truth is that it did matter and I did care. You may think, oh that person is strong, they won’t take it the wrong way, but you can’s see their inside and you just don’t really know. We’re all human and although some of us are more sensitive, none of us are immune to getting hurt. As the song Hezekiah Walker sings, “I need you, you need me, we're all a part of God's body I pray for you, You pray for me, you are important to me, I won't harm you with words from my mouth, I love you, I need you to survive.”

♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…”


My self-esteem was strongly affected in two different ways, simply by the words of two individuals’ mouths. I don’t think that guy from Heritage is some kind of horrible person. He was just trying to look cool in the eyes of his friends, but he wasn’t thinking about me as a person or how his words might affect me. The truth is that most of us have all made fun of someone at one time or another. I’m sure the other good-looking guy has, and I for sure know that I have done my fair share of saying unkind things and making fun. There is an old saying that says, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That saying is NOT true! Words can hurt and sometimes even more than sticks or stones ever could. Words are a powerful tool that can be used in a positive or negative way. Words can slice and dice a person right up. The Bible says "Death and life are in the power of the tongue," (Proverbs 18:21).


♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say…”


However, your words can also be a blessing and bring nurture to a hurting person. "Pleasant words are a honey comb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones" (Proverbs 16:24). How are your words affecting people? How are my words affecting people? Are we lifting people up, causing someone to smile? Putting on the light in someone’s eye? Or are we slaughtering people? Slaying them with sharp words and stomping out their flame? “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD…” (Psalm 19:14). ♫ “Oh be careful little mouth what you say!”♪

Friday, August 20, 2010

♫ Why Complain? ♫

"God is so good to me, I was singing this song the other day, He is so good to me, God is so good to me, I CAN'T complain!” Then I got to thinking about it and I thought, actually, I could complain. I mean seriously. There are quite a few things in my life that I would like to complain about right now.
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Then something happened at work that same day that just really pushed me over the edge. I was very irritated. Just so incredibly annoyed. On the outside I had managed maintain my cool. However, on the inside, I was boiling mad. I was so hot I am surprised no one could see steam seeping out of me. There was nothing I could really do about it, except maintain my cool in silence.
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For the most part, I try not to post all my problems on my blog or email them to all my friends. I try to keep a positive attitude. But after this, I decided to break that decision. I was going to blog about this irritation, mass email about it, twitter about it, text and facebook about it. I was ready to vent my extreme annoyance to anyone and everyone that would listen.
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However, as I was sitting there, preparing to vent, God ran a simple little question through my mind...
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"Why complain?"
" Huh?" I heard it again.
"Why complain?"
" Well, because I am like really irritated and..."
"...But why complain?"
"Well, uh, you see, I uh, the reason why is because, uh..."
Then another question...
"What is complaining going to do?"
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I thought about this for a moment, but came up with NOTHING. I knew that was the answer to the question; complaining would do NOTHING. It wouldn’t do me any good. Nor was it going to do any of the people I was complaining to ANY good. When I realized this God asked me one more time...
"Why complain?"
"I said ok forget it, I think I just changed my mind!!!"
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You know, its so easy to complain. But really, WHY complain? Why be negative when you can be positive? Why bring another's spirit down, when you can help lift their spirit up? We all have those bad days, life isn't perfect, and sometimes we're just going to feel a little down. BUT why complain?
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One of the best ways to get out of feeling down is by making someone else smile. There is a saying that says Happiness is like jam, you can't spread even a little, without getting some on yourself. I realized this the other day when I was upset. I went home from work and thought, hmmm.... what should I do? Really, I just felt like being a grouch. I went to the computer to check my email, perhaps I had received and enlightening email from a friend. Grrr ...Nothing but junk mail. Well, I guess I’ll blog. So I started writing something, it was just a silly, stupid blog, but it was funny. It made my friends laugh and you know what, making them laugh made me feel better.
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Yeah, I still had the same problem, but I would have had the same problem if I had been complaining about it to. And by complaining about it to my friends I would have put that same frustration on them, instead I had caused them to laugh, which in turn made me smile also.
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So why complain? Sometimes we just expect everyone to be our little venting station. We think that our family, spouse, friends, employees are there for us to complain to about all of life's little problems. Then we can't understand why people don't want to talk to us and make excuses to get off the phone. The truth is simple, no one wants to hear you complain. Yes it's okay to occasionally vent frustration. It's one thing to go to a friend and say that you have something that you really need to talk to them about. That you need their advice, prayer or just some encouragement…
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It's another thing to just complain.

"My husband just can't pick up after himself. No one at work appreciates me. The neighbor's next-door need to mow their lawn. I deserve a raise. My brother ate the last of my favorite cereal. My sister used the last of the cinnamon vanilla creamer. My wife always burns the toast AND her coffee is weak." Sometimes, I just want to look at people and say, "I DON'T CARE!!!" I am not trying to be rude, I mean, we could all sit around and talk about our frustrations, but, WHY?! WHY complain?
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I heard a preacher once tell a story about how someone at his house had left the water running while watering the plants. He said that he was very annoyed when he went out and saw the water running down the street. It was wasting water and he was going to have to pay the bill. He said that he knew who had left the water running. He knew where she lived and he knew that if he chose to he could go over to her house and really let her have it for not turning off the water. If chose to, he could really ruin this woman’s day. However, he says, “You know what I did? I turned off the water.”
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I think sometimes in life we need to learn how to just “Turn off the water” If it really bothers you, that your husband leaves his clothes on the floor, just shut up and pick them up. Buy some more creamer. Eat a different cereal. Make your own coffee. I’m NOT saying that when we don’t like something we never have to say a word about it. But if you really do have a constant problem, you should try talking directly to that person and not the rest of the world.

I got to thinking about it a little bit more, the whole complaining thing. I realized that we would probably get a lot further with resolving our problems, if we spent as much time in prayer, talking to God about our problems, as we do complaining to everyone else about our problems. In the Bible it says that there was a woman named Hannah who was barren in her womb. Her and her husband could not conceive children and because of this she was very sad. The Bible says she literally grieved in her heart, that’s how badly she wanted a child.
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At first, Hannah tried complaining to her husband about this, but she didn’t get very far. Although the Bible says that her husband loved her, his response was that of a typical male, “Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? Am not I better to thee than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8) There was nothing Elkanah, her husband could do to solve this problem. However, I like what Hannah does next. “And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.” (1 Samuel 1:10) What did she do? She talked to God about it. And talking to God about her problem got her a whole lot further than complaining to her husband about it. “…and the LORD remembered her. Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the LORD, ” ( 1 Samuel 1:19-20). God heard her and He answered her prayer.
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The honest truth is that often times we as humans might not really want to hear about the things that are bringing you down. Its not that we don’t love each other, but, we’re only humans. There are some things, that, aside from praying, there is just nothing I can personally do to help a person. However, 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” Talk to God about your problems. He REALLY does care.

So the song runs through my mind just one more time. God is so good to me; He is so good to me. His spirit came to me and gave me the victory; God is so good to me I CAN'T complain! Well, actually, I still could, I mean, there are still quite a few things in my life that I would like to be different. I am still single, I still wish I had more money, a car, a raise would be nice, I really want that one jacket, that one camera, and oh, irritating people are still everywhere. BUT, then I think about God's goodness.

I was raised in truth, I am surrounded by family, I have the Holy Ghost, God forgave me of my sins, I go to an awesome church, I have a pastor that watches out for my soul and isn't afraid to preach the truth, at least I HAVE A JOB, the bills are getting paid, I have tons of cute clothes, I have friends galore, I have good fellowship, laughter overflows my heart, I have joy that fills my soul, and the list goes on and on and on. ♫Sing it one more time♫ God is so good to me, He is so good to me, God is so good to me, and I’m NOT going to complain!♫

...Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
 (Phil. 4:8)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Little Messenger

He was sitting in the front row on the first seat at church. He was the pastor’s son and my big brother’s best friend. I thought his freckle-covered face was adorable, and every time I looked into his beautiful, blue-green eyes, I would drown in a pool of bliss. I had a perfect view of him from my seat in the third row, on the opposite side of the church. His name was Daniel Mack Abbott, but we all called him Danny.
Every time he happened to glance behind him, my best friend Jacqui would nudge me.
"He's looking at you," she whispered. I giggled.
"How many times is that now?" I asked.
"Four,” she whispered.
I was about 14 years old and had the biggest crush of my whole entire life. I would do anything to get his attention and I was willing to fight any girl for him. I figured if I fought hard enough, he would be mine.


(My scrapbook was filled with his pictures.)


"Just wait, I would boast to everyone. “I'm gonna marry that boy some day!"

My boasting came to halt one day when my best friend Jacqui called.
"Hey girl, what's up?" I said.
“You are so not going to believe what just happened to me,” she said.
“Oh tell me, tell me,” I exclaimed.
“Danny just called me,” she said.
“What did he say?” I squealed. She paused…
"Okay, don't get mad at me," she said, but Danny asked me to the Valentine's Banquet, and I said ‘yes’."
"Uhhh, umm ..."shocked, all I could do was stutter. I couldn’t believe it!
"He just called a few minutes ago," she said. "You’re my best friend so I wanted you to be the first to know."
"Oh,” I managed to choke out. How nice of you, I though to myself! I didn’t know what else to say. So hung up the phone and started crying.
*
How could she do this to me? I wondered. She knew how much I liked him, and yet she still said “yes”. What kind of a friend was she? Little did I know I had a lot to learn about friendship.
*
“Just because you like him, doesn’t mean you own him,” said one of the older girls in my church,“Other girls can like him, too.”
“Whatever!” I thought to myself.
*
However, I did try really hard not to be mad at her for what she had done. It wasn’t her fault that he liked her and not me. I told myself no guy was worth losing my best friend.
Yet, when I looked at his handsome face, I wasn’t sure maybe it was.
*
This situation was really hard on our friendship. That’s when little Sarah stepped in. Sarah Nickels was 10 years old. Too young for Danny, too young to be my friend, but just right to be my messenger, and she was a very loyal messenger, too!
*
“Everyone thinks that you’re mad because Danny didn’t ask you to the banquet," said Sarah.
"I'm not mad!” I said. “But go tell Danny he should have gone with me!"
“Okay,” she said obediently, running off to do her job.
*
Another time at summer, Bible camp, in Prescott, little Sarah came running over to me.
"Mary! Mary! Some girl at choir practice said that she likes Danny." At 14 I was too old to be a camper, so I went as a staff member instead. Sarah would keep me informed on everything that was going on.
"WHAT! How dare she?" I said.
"I know," said Sarah. "I told her that Danny Abbott went to our church and that you liked him first."
"Good job!" I said.
*
That night Sarah was at my side in the dorm room as I yelled out the window.
"I like Danny Abbott!"
"Well I like Danny Abbott, too," yelled a voice a couple rooms down in the dorm.
"That’s her," whispered Sarah.
"Well I like Danny Abbott more," I yelled back.
*
One time I made a cookie for Danny, but I was to shy to give it to him.
"Sarah, will you go give this to Danny for me.” I kissed the cookie before I handed it to her. "Tell Danny I made this cookie for him. After he takes a bite of the cookie, tell him I kissed it. Then come back and tell me what he says.”
"He says it was delicious," she said after completing her assignment. (She left out the part were he spit it out, after he found out that I had kissed it.)
*And so the drama continued...
*“Let’s go find Danny and take a picture of him. Go tell Danny I like his shirt. Go give Danny this note. Go tell Danny I missed him. Tell me if you see any girls flirting with him.” And little Sarah kept doing her job…
*
That was all a long time ago, I am 25 now, and a lot has happened in the last 11 years. Jacqui and I managed to get over our petty squabbling and remained the best of friends. Little Sarah grew up, and we became best friends as well. Eventually, I got over Danny, and have liked a million guys since then. I have spent many nights up late, with both Jacqui and Sarah, whispering and giggling over cute guys.
*
Three summers ago there was a wedding, Danny Abbott's wedding. This was the wedding I had spent many hours dreaming about.
*
Although it wasn’t exactly the way I had planned it. It was still perfect, because, it happened exactly the way God planned it.
*
I felt like a princess that day, as I walked down the aisle holding on tightly to my beautiful rose bouquet. My Little Messenger Sarah did my hair and it was piled up on my head with beautiful curls flowing down. Little pink and red roses were in my hair and I felt like the most beautiful woman in the world, as I walked down the aisle, smiling happily. No, I wasn't the bride, but I was a bridesmaid.
*
So who did Danny Abbott end up marrying?
It wasn't my best friend that went with him to the banquet or the girl from camp or any of the other girls I used to fight with. It was little Sarah. I don’t remember her ever doing foolish things to try and gain his attention, but one day he looked across the aisle at church and he noticed her. Danny Abbott fell in love with my Little Messenger.
*
“I can’t believe it!” I said to Sarah on her wedding day, as I buttoned the cuffs on her beautiful white dress. “My little Sarah is getting married.” I can’t help but smile at the way things turned out.
*

You see, my little messenger gave me a message as well. Her message was about friendship and loyalty. She taught me that being a friend doesn’t mean you can’t like the same guy, but a true friend will stick by you no matter what happens. The world is full of handsome men. However, best friends are like a rare treasure, they're hard to find.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Are You Cheering?

A while ago I had the strangest dream. In the dream I was walking outside in my mother's neighborhood. As I was walking I saw the bridge that you can walk over the freeway and see all the cars below. As I got closer I noticed that there was a large group people standing around the bridge. Wanting to know what was going on I walked closer. As I got closer could hear chanting and cheering. People were screaming, "COME ON! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!" I wondered what they were cheering about. Finally I got close enough, I saw that there was a man about to jump off the bridge and end his life. I gasped HORRIFIED as people continued screaming and chanting. "Just do it! Jump! Come on, JUST JUMP! JUMP!" I was SHOCKED! I couldn't believe that people would be cheering someone on to end their life. "NOOOOOO!" I screamed. "Don't do it!" But it was to late for my one little cry. It was overshadowed by the screaming and cheering throng of people.
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The cheering of the people in the crowd turned to whoops and hollers of joy as the man took his final plunge off the bridge and ended his life. "Oh yeah! He FINALLY did it!" The people shouted with enjoyment as they high fived each other. "That was AWESOME!" I woke up with a suddeness and just sat in my bed horrified by my dream. If only that man could have heard someone say that they loved him and that his life still had value! IF ONLY I had gotten there SOONER maybe, there would have been a different outcome!
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The WHOLE day a just felt an eeary feeling of gloom over me. While the kids were napping at work, I sat on the couch and just thought about the dream! It was sooooo CREEPY! I mean, to think that people were ACTUALLY cheering and encouraging someone to just end their life absolutely disgusted me.
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As I sat there and thought about it, I felt like God impressed something on me about the dream. Not like I had vision or anything, just a thought he put through my mind. I felt like God told me that sometimes thats what we do to each other within the church. Sometimes we see that our brother or sister in the Lord is falling. Often times there is that ONE person that we see making the same mistakes over and over again. They are weak...they are struggling. But instead of trying to help them up, we gossip and talk about them behind their back.
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So often a person leaves the church and we shrug our shoulders in nonchalance. I remember talking to a girl from another church one time on the phone. I asked her how a girl in her church was doing. She casually said that the girl had stopped going to church, but was now struggling to get back in and live for God. "Oh well," she said indifferent, you can't win them all." I was shocked. How could someone talk so carlessly about their friend losing out with God?
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There is a young man in my church named Sam Karlson. He stopped going to church in his early teens and got back in church at 18. When he got back in church, I wrote his testimony and it's pretty awesome some of the things that God brought him from. But, one thing I remember him tellin me about was that his mom ALWAYS prayed for him. He said that sometimes he would come home late at night, drunk from partying and he would find his mom praying for him. You know why? Because it was HER son. She loved him and she wanted above all else to see him saved.  What if Sam's mom had just been like, "Oh bummer, my son's not coming to church anymore?"  Do you think he would have got back in? But NO! Sis. Kathy Karlson got down her knees and did some heartwrenching praying. I don't believe Sam would be back in church is she hadn't!
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When someone leaves the church we need to make it PERSONAL!!! Think about how you would feel if someone you loved dearly left church...or perhaps you do know. Your not just like, whatever...bummer their not coming anymore, but Oh well! NO! YOUR on your knees, pleading the blood of Jesus over them. WELL, This is not just anyone, this is OUR brother, this is OUR sister!!! You say, well I just don't feel that way...ASK GOD to give you a burden!
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I understand that sometimes people have a bad spirit that is bringing others down and that sometimes it really is a relief when it's gone. However it should NEVER be our desire to see our brother or sister lose out with God. I think sometimes we see a peer getting ready to take that final lunge and leave the church. BUT instead of screaming...NOOOOOOOOO...STOP!!! We secretly are cheering them on in our hearts. Just go on now...get outta here...LEAVE!
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Then when they do, we turn to each other, "Aw, I knew they were gonna leave eventually. They never really had it in their heart all along." And we are pleased in knowing that we were really right about them ALL ALONG! And perhaps we are right to some degree, BUT WHAT IF, WHAT IF, WHAT IF, WHAT IF we had all gone to that person and told them that we loved them?! What if we had told them that we cared about them?! WHAT IF we told them that we believed in them?! WHAT IF we told them that it didn't matter what they had done, God would still forgive them. WHAT IF we had all gotten down on our knees and PRAYED AND WEPT FOR THEM?! Maybe there would be a DIFFERENT outcome.
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Perhaps your thinking, but you don't know what they did! They don't DESERVE our love. The truth is that they probabley don't deserve our love. Just like WE didn't deserve God's love, BUT he still gave it.
But God commandeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

THINK about it...
 Are you screaming NOOOOO?!
Or are you cheering them on?!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Do you ever wonder?

It was just one of those days at work as a nanny. I had spent all morning chasing the kids as they tore the house a part. Finally, it was naptime. I put the little one down first in his crib. Then I told Ella to pick out a short story for me to read to her before her nap. She handed me Max Lucado’s book called, "Just In Case You Ever Wonder." I rolled my eyes to myself, I had read this story several years ago and was not at impressed by it. However, I was tired and just figured I would get story time over with. I tucked the 5-year-old girl into her cozy little bed, then sat on the edge and began to read to her…
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Long, long ago God made a decision- a very important decision. One that I’m really glad He made. He made the decision to make you. The same hands that made the stars made you. The same hands that made the canyons made you. The same hands that made the trees and the moon and the sun made you. So I am just sitting there like blah, blah, blah, whatever, totally not any more impacted by this story. It continues…
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God made you like no one else. If you looked all over the world – every city in every house – there is would be no one else like you. No one with your eyes, no one with your mouth, no one with your laugh. You are very, very special. And since you are so special, God wanted to put you in just the right home. All of the sudden I felt something tighten in my heart…
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God wanted to put you in just the right home. Where you would be warm when it’s cold, where you’d be safe when you’re afraid, where you’d have fun and learn about heaven. I’m starting to feel choked up… So, after lots of looking for just the right family, God sent you to me. And I’m so glad he did. I could hardly contain myself as I continued reading the story. It wasn’t the story so much in itself that was causing the emotional response, but because I know some children, that can’t relate with this story. I know some children, that don’t always have a warm place to sleep at night. There are some children that aren’t safe in their own home.
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My voice began to get all funny as I continued reading to this little girl… As you grow and change, some things will stay the same. I’ll always love you. I’ll always hug you. I’ll always be on your side. And I want you to know that, just in case you ever wonder. I know that there are kids out there that ARE wondering…
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On dark nights when you hear noises in your closet, call me. When you see monsters in the shadows, call me. On hard days when kids are mean and don’t treat you like they should, come to me. If your grades are bad and your teacher is mad, come to me. ‘Cause I love you. And I always will.
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I think of a wild little five year-old boy. He is so loud and obnoxious. He drives everyone crazy. But I wonder, at night, when he is scared and all alone, does he know that there are angels watching over him. I wonder who holds him close and tells him everything is going to be all right? I think of a 12-year-old girl, she gets up in the middle of the night, to watch someone else’s baby. I wonder when was the last time someone tucked her into bed? There are so many things, I just can’t help but wonder…
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In heaven you are so close to God that HE will hug you, just like I hug you. It’s going to be wonderful. I will be there too, I promise. We will be there together, forever. Remember that. Just in case you ever wonder.
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As I finish the book, I can hardly hold back my tears. The little girl looks at me funny, not to sure what is wrong with her nanny. I smile a little smile. Tuck her in as we say her bedtime prayers. Then I go into their living room. I sit down on their floor and I cry.
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What about these kids God? The Sunday School kids? The bus kids? I can't help but wonder...Who encourages them when they are sad? Who holds them when they can’t fall asleep at night? Who tells them to sleep with the bible under their pillow when they have bad dreams? Who will fill in the gap of their parent’s? Who will tell them that they are loved? I just can’t help but wonder…
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As I sat there pondering, God told me, “That’s your job Mary!” He impressed upon me that, that’s us. That’s the church’s job. Our churches are the place where they will fell safe and warm. After lots and lots of looking, God chose our churches to be their home. A place where he knew they would be loved and taught about Him. I believe, that every child brought to church, is brought there on purpose, by God.
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I think about my little niece Mary Jo. God brought her out of such a horrible environment. She calls her old home, “The mad home” and our house is her “Happy home.” And I’m so glad that God brought her out of the horrible life that she was in, but still thinking about it, I can’t help but feel a sense of sadness. Because not every child gets “There happy home.” There are so many children that are stuck in their “Mad home” till adulthood. But then I think, if only for a moment, we can give them that happy home. Church can be their happy home. Church can be the place where they can feel loved and taught the truth. Even if it’s only for two hours a week, we can make a difference.
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Often times these kids are NOT the easiest kids to love, I know that! They are wild and hyper and not used to discipline. Often they are dirty and sick with runny noses. Chances are they may smell and you will more than likely hear inappropriate things coming out of their mouths. These kids are NOT like our church kids. They are not naïve and innocent. By four-years-old, most of them have already been violated and corrupted by the sin of this world. It is an overwhelming feeling, to hold a child in your arms and know that at 26-years of age, you are more innocent, more naïve than that little child. Sometimes, it seems like there is just too much, to work through. Perhaps it would be easier to just give up. But, God called us.
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One night, my brother and I were dropping kids off at their homes. The last boy in the van was about 6-years-old. When we get to his apartment, he proudly walks to their front door holding the big, 3-dimentional, paper snowflake he had made in his class that night. I watch as he sets the snowflake down on the ground and reaches into his pocket for a key to unlock the door. There are no lights on and I don’t even have to wonder, I turn to my brother, “He is on his own tonight.” He finally gets the front door open, but a gust of wind starts blowing his snowflake. I watch as he goes chasing after his beloved snowflake and my heart breaks just a little. Here is a little boy torn between to worlds. Still enthralled by his little craft, yet the responsibility of an adult on his shoulders.
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On dark nights when you hear noises in your closet, call me.
When you see monsters in the shadows, call me…
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I think of one of a four-year-old in my mom’s class at church. She has a special prayer request along with the other kids in class. One little boy wants to pray for his Pa Pa. One little boy wants to pray that he finds his lost key. Another child wants to pray that one of the older ladies in our church feels better. This little girl just wants to pray that her mom will stop beating her sister. That’s the kind of home they these kids are coming from.
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Another part of the story says…
Most of all I’ll be here to teach you about God. He loves you. He protects you. God wants you to know about heaven. It’s a wonderful place. There are no tears there. No monsters. No mean people. You never have to say goodbye, goodnight or I’m hungry. You will never get cold or sick or again.
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Who will tell them about Jesus? How will they know about heaven? That’s our job... Just in case your wondering...they need you...they need me...they need us...Just in case your wondering. As cried at work that day, I told God I’ll do it. I’ll hold them my arms no matter how bad they smell. I’ll dry their tears and wipe their snotty little noses. I’ll discipline them when they are bad and I’ll teach them about you every chance I get. I’ll be here God. Call me, whenever, wherever, I promise. Just in case you ever wonder.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Your Dream

Have you ever wanted something? I mean really, really, REALLY wanted something!? The desire for this thing is so strong and so deep you don't think you could be whole without it. With each and every passing day the desire for your dream seems to intensify even more. You wait and you wait and you wait but it never happens. Your dream never comes true...but still...YOU WAIT!

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Eventually, you sorta put the dream aside. It's NOT that you have stopped wanting this dream to come true. It's NOT that you have given up ALL hope! Your just getting on with your life...living life to the fullest...AND you THINK it's ok...you'll make it...but then you see it AGAIN...YOUR DREAM!!!
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It's right there in front of you. EVERYTHING you ever wanted...It's REAL!!!Only...It's NOT for you. It belongs to someone else. You can't believe it! You don't understand! You waited SOOOOO long for this...and now they have it...YOUR dream!
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They are holding it in their arms. Rocking it slowly...back and forth...back and forth.They cradle your dream to their heart as they whisper sweet I love you's. You wonder if they know just how blessed they are to have your dream.
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You try NOT to be jealous. You try to be happy for them. You try to push away the envy that is overwhelming you...but it's still there. Once again your aware of the empty, gaping whole in your heart...The aching in your arms.You try to hold back the tears...but you can't. When no one is looking you let the tears fall...Your body shakes as you cry...you sob.You don't understand...it's NOT fair! HOW DID THEY GET YOUR DREAM?
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But then...Then they hand it to you...The dream. You hold the dream in your arms...and it's PERFECT! Better than you could have ever imagined! You feel every teeny, tiny breath as it peacfully sleeps. SUDDENLY it begins to move...stretching...then it opens it's eyes...AND it looks at you...and you can't help but smile... just a little. The dream raise it's little eybrows...crinckling it's forhead...you smile a little bigger. It raises it's arm and yawns...you can't help but giggle...It moves it's lips...you laugh...you just have to! It just looks at you and you laugh some more.
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You hold it to your heart and cuddle it....the dream.You put your cheek on it's cheek...and your dream quickley falls back asleep. You can't help but feel so happy.The joy of the dream overflows your heart. It's still not your dream...so you hand it back...smiling...envy washed away. It's not as if you don't still have the desire for your dream...it's still there...burning in your heart...
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But your learnin...

Learnin as you wait, to enjoy someone else's dream.
Thats what I call CONTENTMENT.

Godliness with contentment is great gain.
Titus 6:5