Friday, October 18, 2019

It's My Pleasure


On Monday a young man came to my register and ordered lunch. His amount due was $10.65 and he handed me a Chick-fil-A gift card to make his payment.
Lots of people come through with gift cards, and at that point I expected to see a window pop up on my screen asking if I would accept a partial payment of $10.
Because, most often, gift cards are for $10.
But instead of seeing what I expected, I heard a familiar ringing sound and the printer spit out a reciept. And, as I always do in those circumstances I glanced at the bottom of the receipt so I could announce to this young man how much money was left on his card.
That's when my eyes got big, and I said, "Oh! This is a nice gift card! Your balance is $89.35. Somebody must love you!"
He smiled back and explained that his grandmother had been visiting over the weekend and was afraid he wasn't eating enough. So she came to Chick-fil-A and got him a gift card.
He was very happy with her generosity, and I thought her gesture was so sweet.
Then I remembered some delightful things I have read and seen recently about Chick-fil-A. There was the Chick-fil-A manager who changed the tire of a World War II vet who came into the restaurant for help. The Chick-fil-A employee who emerged from the kitchen to tie a tie for a high-school boy whose dad was deployed over seas. Another employee who helped a single mom and her kids make it to "Family Night". And as I thought about this young man who was enjoying a warm meal - in the light of all the other Chick-fil-A folks who've cared for their guests, it occurred to me: How sweet is it that we're even trusted by grandmas to keep their beloved college students well-fed? *smile*

Karen

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

A Warning from Hebrews

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.

~Hebrews 2:1

Pay much closer attention.
This is the warning we are given in the beginning of Hebrews 2.
(Among several other warnings throughout the book...)
And I'm thinking about it heavily today. That is, I have been thinking about it for several days recently - as I've been doing my homework for my Precepts class. I was never a fan of "homework" when I was in school but I'm telling you, studying the Word of God absolutely delights my heart!
Truthfully, though, sometimes the things I learn also break my heart.
Like the picture painted in this verse if we do not pay much closer attention.
The condition from which the warning is trying to save us sounds almost harmless in the english.
"Drift away".
The words themselves conjure an image in my mind of floating down a river on an innertube with the sunshine warming my skin. And that sounds glorious to me at this moment.
But the author of Hebrews meant to portray a much different scene.
The Greek word used here in Hebrews 2:1 is pararreĆ³ and it means to drift past a destination because you're being pushed by a current. As it is used in Hebrews 2:1 it means "to 'lapse' into spiritual defeat, describing how we slowly move away from our moorings in Christ." And that picture right there - slowly moving away from our moorings in Christ - breaks my heart!
I think of good-hearted, well-meaning people who get so busy doing helpful, neighborly, even honorable activities that they neglect to nurture and heed the Word of God which brought them to those good things in the first place. I think of commendable, inclusive, sincere individuals who intend to walk in truth but have been lead astray by teachings which sound good or seem right - yet which do not fully align with the Word of God. I think of myself, and how easy it would be to get caught up in a current and drift away from the faith God has given me through Christ. And my heart cries out, "LORD, save me!"
Friend, that picture in my mind - of me (of anyone!) drifitng away from Christ - makes me so very sad. So I pray that I (that each of us) will take this warning seriously.
God has spoken to us through His Son, therefore, let us give full attention to what HE has said.
Let us cling to HIS Word, so we do not one day find ourselves far away from Him and the salvation He has achieved for us.

Karen

Monday, October 14, 2019

Choose Well

So, yesterday I led a church service at the assisted living facility where I used to work.
Leading this service is something I always do on the second Sunday of the month. And I love, LOVE the time I have with these precious souls - who are eager to hear the Word of God.
(And who make me feel very young! *smile*)
After church is over I make the rounds to say "Hello" to everyone and give hugs. And yesterday my intention was to take a few minutes to record a video for today's blog after I left the building. But just as I was about to leave, someone I had never met before approached me. A retired Army colonel, who served during World War II. He was a mixture of laughter and tears - full of stories about his late wife, his children, life as a youth leader in church years ago, and experiences with the army and his comrades.
(Just to name a few!) And I quickly deduced that nothing I might say in a video devotion would be more valuable than this man having a listening ear, attached to a caring face.
I pray my decision honors God.
And encourages you to listen to somebody today who needs your time and love.

Karen

Friday, October 11, 2019

It's My Pleasure!

"Welcome to Chick-fil-A! I'd be happy to serve the next guest."
And, just like that, one of my small group friends was standing in front of me at the counter with his kids and their friends. Smiling, and asking if he could take my picture to send to the rest of the group. (Because another one of our group members has commented a few times that whenever he comes to Chick-fil-A while I'm working he "never" gets called to my register. And when our group leader came in last week, I had the pleasure of serving him at my register. Not sure if there is some sort of competition going on between them all... But comments were abundant in the group text which ensued.)
Anyway, I enjoyed serving my friend and his family.
And the next guest.
And the next.
And each one who followed.
And the question came to me, Why is it so easy - so delightful - to serve a seemingly endless line of (mostly) strangers, and so easy to become irritated when the two men with whom I live (My son and my husband!) present me with a small list of needs?
*Figuratively, that is. They don't really make lists for me!*
Honestly, I hustle around that restaurant giving my best effort and undivided attention to guests - whom I may or may not ever see again. And I do it all willingly and happily. (And often with a little boost from caffeine, to be honest.) Yet there are times when I feel reluctant to prepare dinner, or fold laundry, or get groceries for two of the people I love most on this earth, because I'm tired or pre-occupied, or I just don't feel like it.
Usually irony makes me chuckle. But not this time.
This time I am asking God to increase my heart's capacity to serve lovingly and willingly even when I don't wear a cute uniform, even when no one is watching, and even when I am not getting paid to do it.
Yes, LORD, please help me to serve and love like Jesus all the time.

Karen

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Fast-Forward 18 Years

It happened again.
One of those moments in which I found myself "remembering when", and smiling at the realization that God's grace and faithfulness have consistently carried me through.
That is, yesterday morning I served at church by caring for children, so their mommies could have time with other mommies. And as I always do on those mornings, while I was getting ready for the day I was praying for the babies. Asking God to bring peace and give grace to the children, the volunteers, and the mommas - that all might have a joyful morning. (A prayer I am also whispering for this morning - as I speak for some sweet MOPS moms!)
Anyway, as I was contemplating how the morning would transpire (Always plenty of crying now, at the beginning of the year!) my mind went back to when my Josh was three years old. Almost every time I took him to the nursery on a Sunday morning - no matter how pleasant his disposition may have been up to that point - he would put up a fight.
Like, seriously.
As I attempted to pass him over the half-door he would spread out his arms and legs to brace himself in the doorframe, thinking his strength would keep him from going into the nursery. And leaving me feeling like some wicked mother for forcing her child into the loving arms of a sweet servant, when said child clearly wanted no part in it. Of course, by the time I returned to pick him up, Josh was playing and having fun and was totally happy to be in the nursery.
But those first moments.
Oh, they were hard on my momma's heart!
So, as I said, I was thinking about that memory yesterday, after I had just spent the previous evening with my family at Josh's apartment having dinner and playing games. And I smiled as I thought about my 21-year-old son, grown and learning to make his way in the world - but still needing mom 'n dad now and then. I smiled as I recalled his fits over being taken to the nursery, him not realizing at the time that life would get a lot harder. And I smiled - I'm still smiling - as I pondered the faithfulness of our God through each day and every challenge we've faced over that past 18 years. Ahhh, yes. GOD is good!

And if you're reading these words as a mother of babes, if the heartache of tearful transitions and woeful cries is what you're experiencing these days, please hear my heart for you.
It's hard. I know it is! But God is faithful, and HE will bring you through this time.
Keep holding on to HIM, dear sister.

Karen

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Mindy 2.0

So, game night was fun last night.
And we met somebody new.
That is, Josh is still missing Mindy. As is his roommate. Thus, the guys have done some thinking, and asking around, and budget planning - and a lot of listening to their hearts which miss their furry companion.
And this is the decision they've reached.
Meet Cleo!

She is a precious little pup. And I am so pleased to see the smile return to Josh's face and heart.

Karen

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Coming Full Circle

I had an interesting conversation in the check-out lane at Meijer yesterday afternoon.
A few lanes over there was a young child half babbling, half screaming and I overheard the cashier and the woman in front of me commenting about it. I chuckled and chimed in, "Ahhh, it's fun to make noise." They agreed, and then the woman ahead of me in line noted that - while the noise-making can be cute - she does not miss her kids being that age. What with the temper tantrums and diapers and all the other unpleasantries associated with that time in life.
"But now they're teenagers," she said, "and they're driving me nuts in other ways."
I smiled and nodded, because I fully understood her observation. Then I said, "I get that, because I've been there. The crazy thing is they keep growing, and things keep changing. Tomorrow night we're going over to my 21-year-old son's apartment for dinner and a family game night. I am so looking forward to it!" And in that moment I realized that we have truly come full circle in this parenting gig. Having survived the baby days and the toddler years and the pre-school stage and grade school and the teens - now that two-thirds of our children are no longer living under our roof - we're all coming together under one of their roofs to enjoy one another and have fun.
Honestly, 19 years ago - when I was up to my armpits in diapers and young-mother angst - when older and wiser women told me, "There will come a time when you'll miss these days!" - I couldn't imagine I would make it to today. I was too caught up in the struggle of the moment to believe it would ever pass. And envisioning the today I'm living right now seemed waaaay out of reach.
Yet, here I am.
Wow.
And thanks be to God!!!
Full disclosure, though? I don't miss those days.
Oh, some many of the moments? Yes.
But not the entire day!
*wink*

How about you? Caught up in the middle of a struggle which seems like it will go on forever?
Hang in there, my friend. It will surely come to an end.
And, remember - God is faithful. Hold on to HIM!!!

Karen