Tag Archives: humility

Reflection: Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear

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“With Jesus, preemptive declarations of grace and love and no-condemnation establish the environment for conversations about truth, morality, and ethics. It can be no other way.” 
Author Scott Saul Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear

I love a quiet afternoon with Ann VosKamp and her front porch guests. 
Today’s post by Pastor Saul stopped me in my tracks for a bit of soul-searching of my own. 
Ann VosKamp is wise. How do I know? She has learned to sit at the feet of those who know the transforming love and grace of God so very well that they are compelled to proclaim the good and glory of God. 
Shoutin’ glory as it relates to their very own honest view of the not so pretty, imperfect, real and messy business of life. You know the life that faces the world head-on in pursuit of the real meaning to it all? 
The truth of it is that some of us find the real Jesus for life sooner rather than later and that is a blessing. For others, it takes years of pain, heartache and struggle until they know the surrender of the arms of an all loving God.
The following excerpt toward the end of the powerfully convicting post by Pastor Scott Saul caused me to consider how many times I may have inadvertently offered my judgement in word and action far more quickly than love and grace. 
Grace, a ready favor. Love so undeserved. The free gift of eternal life. I know more now why my grandmother spent her days living, breathing and singing sweet hymns of the promise of heaven. 

“After eighteen years of pastoral ministry, I have never met a person who fell in love with Jesus because a Christian scolded them about their morality or their ethics. Have you?”

In the end, the following words of Anne Lamott hang hauntingly over me and I have mulled them over and over for hours.
“It’s okay to realize that you’re crazy and very damaged. All the best people are.
Grace and love must come before ethics.
No-condemnation must come before the morality discussion.

Because it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance, not our repentance that leads God to be kind.

Love – the broad embrace of the narrow path – will trigger some of the most life-giving experiences you’ll ever be part of.

I have known my own life-giving experiences and have been so grateful for love in action, grace expressed among the people of God who held me, never uttered a word and cried WITH me.
There is so much pain in this world. Pain that makes your heart feel as if it could explode at any moment and is only diffused when the eyes of compassion that look right back at you. Truth. Inthat very  moment of need, the eyes of love  and grace knows! There is no more peaceful place than the soul deep affirmation that you are loved and in that breath no words are needed. 
Not. One. Word. 
So where does that kind of love begin and grace abound?

“We must first realize that LOVE is the environment that we ourselves are already living inside of. 

Love has to be a Person to us before it can become a verb.” Scott Saul

At this day’s end…….. 
This small heart is overcome by God’s love that wraps me all up tight and swells over my life such palpable grace. 
Where DOES that kind of love begin and grace extend?
In and through me….
In and through you…..
Grace and love speak louder than words. ALWAYS!
Lord, keep me mindful of the your extreme love and grace extended to me. May my habit of love and grace’s response be exponentially the same on even the hardest days. 
When I am wrangling my own demons write love and grace in my heart. For all of my days; the good, challenging, when I don’t feel well, knees are swollen, head is aching, have worked hard on the sweatiest, coldest, draining, did not sleep well last night, aggravated, in need of heart rest and self care, backbreaking and enduring days.
And yes Lord, may we walk humbly in the love and grace that responds because of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. May our heavenly minded action respond as an outpouring of love and grace extended… 
May all that we know intellectually be true, honest and authentic as our lives speak of who God is- 
We love because God first loved us!
May our anthem cry be that of our view toward heaven and the level ground at the foot of the cross…..

Come ye sinners, poor and needy. 

Weak and wounded, sick and sore. 

Jesus, ready, stands to save you. 

Full of pity,  joined with power…

Let not conscience make you linger

 Nor of fitness fondly dream.

Check out the entire guest post @ 

http://annvoskamp.com/2017/02/its-okay-to-be-damaged-all-the-best-people-are/

Small Steps

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Small Steps…..Big God

Stepped out of my comfort zone into the realm of the internet. No computer education. A simple dream. Celebrate my 50th year by launching my blog at Word Press. I am still not sure what I am doing but I am faithfully learning one new thing per day to improve my skills.

More than anything my heart longs for this blog to be an encouragement to women, children and families through the simple things in my life that bring living simply into reality for the hearers.

I believe that God has created and called me to graciously support, inspire, lead and encourage women, children and families by sharing my simple journey of faith as I write, relate and teach from God’s Word.

And so I pray that God is….. enlarging the dream of my heart. And using the “lesser things” in me for His glory and His kingdom come!!

“Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses.” 1 Timothy 6:11-16 (MSG

“The journey toward your Big Dream changes you. In fact, the journey itself is what prepares you to succeed at what you were born to do. And until you decide to pursue your Dream, you are never going to love life the way you were meant to.”

Bruce Wilkinson

Amen!!!!!

Praying that God will make a way for your dreams to find a place to live one small step at a time!!

Living Simply~Simply Living

Mel

Samaritan’s Feet….Changing lives one pair of shoes at a time!

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Making friends......one pair of shoes at a time!

Samaritan’s Feet volunteers & staff, Gaston County Commissioner, Tracy Philbeck and I washing feet and giving a new pair of shoes at Rhyne Elementary in Gastonia, Making Friends, one pair of shoes at a time!

Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern,  you understand, is holiness,  not hygiene.” John 13:10

Spending time at the feet of others was the example Jesus set for us to follow as He bowed in subjection to the disciples for the purpose of washing their feet as an act of honor and service. Nothing can be greater, than knowing that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, humbled Himself to the position of servant. As we put ourselves in the position of service, we look up into the eyes of the ones that we have come to serve and say. “You are the most important person at this very moment. I want you to know that you are loved by God and by all of us. We are here today simply because of our heart to love and serve you just as Jesus did.”

Today, I was once again blessed to participate in a shoe distribution with Samaritan’s Feet. The mission and heartbeat of founder, Manny Ohonme, is 10 million pairs of shoes on the feet of 10 million children in the next 10 years You can read more about Manny’s story of how a simple pair of shoes changed his life and led him to follow what was exampled to him by the love of  one who came to serve him.

http://www.samaritansfeet.org/who-is-sf/mannys-story/

I have had the privilege of serving alongside Manny Ohonme and his wife, Tracie since 2005 and have nothing but the utmost love and respect for this man and his family who daily live out what they believe. While we do not often share the same schedule, we are often in contact and communication. Today, however, Monty and I were blessed with a most special opportunity; to give back to children, teacher’s and staff at an elementary school near our hometown of Dallas, NC. We rallied and gathered our friends to help us support the effort of Samaritan’s Feet in our Jerusalem. Gastonia, NC

On this day, 400 plus children, teachers, and staff would receive our undivided attention as we spent time getting to know them, focusing our hearts and attentions towards them, washing their feet and providing a new pair of socks and shoes for each one of them. The event was a surprise for the entire school and spear-headed by their caring principal, Rebecca Huffstetler.

The day started as usual with the younger children filling our stations. So, precious. Timid. Embarrassed and confused by all these people taking off their old shoes, putting their little feet in cold water, washing them and putting new shoes on their feet. Refreshing, but in time the older children would fill the chairs and their disbelief was often verbalized.

My breath-taking and life-joy moment happened near the end of the day when a less than thrilled tough 5th grade boy sat down in front of me. What would become my favorite conversation of the day began with, “So, lady, how much are they paying you to wash my feet, be nice to me and give me this new pair of shoes?” And with attitude and no smile, I might add. He was not rude. Simple putting it all on the table and in all likelihood, wanting to call me out and say, yep, told you so, they don’t care about me.

“Nothing.” I replied. “God loves me (us), we love you and I came here today to tell you how very special you are to Him and to me. Nothing more. Nothing less.” A cynical 10-year-old smile ensued. Our moment together ended within five-eight minutes and toward the end a new-found, whimsical, wry smile appeared. I held his hands, looked him square in the eyes and ended by letting him know that every step that he takes in these new pair of shoes, that I will be thinking of him, praying for him and trusting his life to a God that wants to do great things in and through him. His name will be written in my prayer journal and I will believe God for His very best until heaven.”

I continued as the Holy Spirit kicked my heart into gear and shared the gospel message of hope, a future, and of surrendering his heart to receive the free gift of life now and eternal through Jesus Christ. The promise of forgiveness, new life and God’s perfect plan for his life. You see, we get moments like these on occasion and I felt the urgency to seize the moment while it was sill today! I continued. “God’s plan for you is perfect. Your story is still being written. When you want to give up or you struggle, think of the silly lady who said, you can do it through complete surrender of your heart to the Lord and the power of God which is greater than your mind can conceive.” God wants you to know that you matter and that He has a plan for your life!! An, sweet friend, I pray for you, I will claim each step for the rest of your days for  God to do “exceedingly, abundantly in your life above all that you can ask or think.” HE IS ABLE!!!

He sheepishly, smiled. I said there is just one more thing. “Can I get a hug?” I have yet in my life until today, felt a more genuine embrace than from his big ole size 10 men’s shoe bear hug that I received from Gods most precious possession.
You see, God spoke directly to his heart today. The Holy Spirit penetrated the deepest part of this young mans soul and there is no doubt in my mind that the God of the universe will make good on a prayer prayed forward for a life in the balance between the god of this world and our heavenly Father’s will for his life.

So, when you wonder if God still uses the smallest of opportunities for His good and His glory, remember the hardened heart of my friend today. And when you pray, you need not know his name but that his heavenly Father is well acquainted with the matters of his precious heart and life. Next time you think, I should do something to help….just do it. Don’t wait. The true blessing will be yours. And when you wonder, does God really still open hearts in the least imaginable ways….like through a pair of shoes, a smile, a hug, a word of affirmation, a touch or a smile? May you see my face smiling back at you and saying….Oh yes He does!! Remember, Jesus said it best….”My concern is holiness…” May we walk simply on this path of righteous living….and trust God for life-changing results! For His glory! Amen and Amen!

Caring for God’s beloved!