Wednesday, May 27, 2015

ACE #380: Never Give Up On Your Dreams

Okay, okay.  I admit it.  I have been off the grid for a few weeks.  But I have good reason. Really, I do.

Two weeks ago, I defended my Qualifying Exams for my doctoral program.  I completed my writing last semester, but was unable to defend my work for many reasons.  So, I had to go back and reacquaint myself with the materials, the research, and even my own writing.  Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck. 

I started this program in August of 1999.  I completed my required coursework in two and a half years.  But then, I fell in love with this handsome guy and got engaged.  I planned a wedding.  We got married in front of 300 our family and friends.  We were married for four months and then it happened - I got into a car wreck.  I was in therapy for months.  After months passed, years passed.  Then came many surgeries that would constantly challenge me in terms of my ability to heal and re-heal, to manage my time and to do my ministry work.  It would take me eight years to regain my footing and my focus to resume my studies.

When my husband got home from work two weeks ago, I began to tell him about the process.  I talked about how long it took me to get to this point.  Unbeknownst to us, our daughter was nearby listening quietly.  Then out of nowhere she said, "You should never give up on your dreams."  That was some kind of wisdom from a six-year-old.

I recognize I have a long way to go, but I trust God on the journey.  He has shown himself to be faithful over and over again in my life.

So, whoever you are, don't just follow your dreams - live your dreams.  With God, all things are possible.

Matthew 19:26
26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, 
but with God all things are possible.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

ACE #379: Do You Have a Compassionate Heart?

The other day I was having a conversation with one of my siblings about a former co-worker who has the ability to show compassion in the simplest of forms.  While walking on the side walk, she stopped to pick up a worm and placed it in the grass.  When asked why she did it, her reply was, "I didn't want anyone to step on it and kill it.  Animals don't have the ability to protect themselves."

The same day, I saw a post from one of my friends that really touched me.  She had written about how she and her daughter were driving down the street and saw a cardinal that was injured.  Her daughter asked her if they could turn around and see if the bird had a chance of being saved.  They were trying to figure out if they should let the bird rest under a tree or figure out a way to get it some help.  One of their neighbors said that she would call someone to come to see about the bird, hoping its life could be saved.

I am reminded of the many ways in which Jesus showed compassion to people.  In Matthew 9:35-38 it reads:

35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

I believe it is this type of compassion that could change the world...if only we could show it to each other everyday.  I challenge you today to be the laborer that God called you to be...and to do so with a heart of compassion.

Photo by Shaheen Hogan Pierce

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

ACE #378: It Is Finished

Yesterday, I was re-staining my privacy fence and it was hot. I was hoping I could do it in the morning, but it did not work out that way. My schedule was turned around. So, to make a long story short, I had to tackle the job in the the middle of the day. It was hot! Anyway, as I was nearing the completion of the project, I was reminded that this is what was done for me, through the blood of Jesus. I took a step back. 

The fence represented my life and how over the years I have been worn down by the conditions of life and I needed to be restored. The stain represented the blood of Christ, who sacrificed Himself so I could be restored. His death, burial and resurrection restored my beat down life so I can be new. 

Again, I stepped back and took a look at the fence and just said, "Thank you, Lord."

It was hot. It was in the middle of the day, but it was time for restoration. But, I thank Jesus, "It is finished."

Monday, May 11, 2015

ACE #377: I Wish It Was Me

A couple of weeks ago I took sick. I was down for a couple of days and it was rough. In fact, this rarely happens so my family was a little surprised that I couldn't do much of anything. As I was quarantined in the guest bedroom, they would frequently come in to check on me and see if I needed anything. Then one time my daughter came in with her sad face and said, 

"Daddy, when are you going to be better?"

I kindly responded with uncertainty, "I don't know."

"I wish it was me. I don't like it when you are down," she replied.

As the tears started to roll down her face, I just simply told her that daddy would be back up soon and I did not want it to be her. 

Thinking about this, I hear the conversation between Jesus and the Scribes concerning the question about which commandment is the most important (Mark 12).  The Scripture says, "...the second is this. You shall love your neighbor as yourself..." My daughter was willing to take my sickness so I could be up and around. Wow! 

She didn't know my illness. She didn't really understand the battle. She just knew she didn't want to see me struggle. That's love. Sound familiar? Yes. It was Jesus. He made Himself available to suffer death on the cross for us so we can be up and around. And, it only happened when He rose with all power in His hands. No, I am not calling my daughter Jesus. I am saying that when we are willing to take on our neighbors' burdens because we feel their hurt and don't like to see them suffer, we are not far from the kingdom of God. Jesus said it Himself. We love our neighbor as if we are going through the same thing. 

"I wish it was me" is what she said. I know she loves the Lord. Now, I know she loves her neighbor as herself. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

ACE #376: A Helping Hand

Yesterday, as I was pulling up to Kroger, I was talking on the telephone to one of my cousins.  When I put the car in park, I saw something that I felt needed my immediate attention.  I told my cousin I would call her back in a few minutes.  Standing in front of me was a young lady in an older model vehicle with her grocery cart beside it.

I got out of my car and walked up to a young lady and said, "Excuse me.  It looks like you have locked your keys in the car." 

She responded, "Yes, ma'am. I did."
I said, "I will see if I can help you."

So, I tried to stick my arm through the small opening in the window to unlock the door, but was unsuccessful.  I never had this problem in the past, but since I have gained a pound or two over the years, that trick doesn't work so well anymore. Lol!

Another gentleman and a pregnant lady came over with a hanger.  They had been trying to help this lady before I arrived, but with no success.  That's when I noticed something...the window on the side of the car where I was standing was down a little farther than the one where they were standing.  I suggested that they try the window on my side so that the young lady could put the hanger in the door a little closer to the lock.  And what do you know, she was at least one inch closer and could push the lock open with the hanger.  The young lady was so grateful considering it was 80 degrees outside and she had a basket full of groceries to put in her car.  

I learned several things in this encounter.
1. Never be too busy or too preoccupied to help someone who is in need.
2. Never be ashamed to ask for help if you need it.
3. Never judge someone by their possessions or lack of possessions.
4. Never underestimate the power of teamwork - it still works.

I encourage someone today to set aside apprehension, busyness, judgment, and pride to show God's love and lend someone a helping hand.

1 John 3:17 
But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

Monday, May 4, 2015

ACE #375: Jesus, First

Recently, I heard a song that has undoubtedly motivated me. It's a song by gospel recording artist Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers. The song title is "We've Gotta Put Jesus Back". It's a simple song, but a strong reminder of my purpose. 

You see, I was created to worship Him. In worshipping Him, He must be first in everything. I have to seek Him first and His righteousness. He should be in and before everything I do. He was before. So what happened? I have allowed the busyness of life, the thirst for success and the pursuit of validation to move Jesus, my Savior, to secondary or an after thought. That's dangerous. 

But, when I put Jesus back where He belongs, first, all of these other things will fall into place; if it is in line with His will for our lives.

The reality of it this is that Jesus has been removed from our lives because we have allowed it. Jesus is not where He should be in our lives, first. 

Let's put Jesus back in His rightful place!

From Wawasee Community Bible Church