“What Difference Do It Make?”

I just finished reading my complimentary copy (from Thomas Nelson) of “What Difference Do It Make?” by Ron Hall, Denver Moore and Lynn Vincent. 

This book is the sequel to “Same Kind of Different As Me” by the same authors, and tells about the difference one couple made in a homeless man’s life and how it snowballed to affect so many others.  Not only can you see what it has done in the lives of the authors, but the book contains a lot of stories from folks that read the first book and were inspired.  These people wrote to the authors with their own stories of making a difference and some of those stories are shared in this book.

It is a beautifully written, intriguing book.  I laughed and I cried and most importantly my heart was convicted.  I am inspired to find all kinds of ways to serve and to help others in any way I can.

I will be recommending this book to all my friends and family, in fact I already put my copy on my husband’s bedside table as a hint that he needs to read it next.

Come Near To God

IMG_3946I love the verse “Come near to God and He will come near to you…”  James 4:8.  I love it because it reminds me that all I have to do for God to come near to me, is to come near to Him.  He is always there…..waiting.  He is always there just waiting for us to come to Him.  Waiting for us to ask for His help.  All we have to do is ask for what we need.  Wisdom. Knowledge.  Patience. Understanding. Humility.  Whatever it is you are in need of, only He can provide you with it.

I think it’s important to remember how that verse reads.  It does not say that God comes near to you, so come near to Him.  You must make the first move.  You must come near to Him first.   He has given us choice and free will, so it is always our choice whether or not we go to God.  He is always there waiting, but it is up to us to make the first move. 

I find it very comforting knowing He is always there for me.  In fact, I thank Him for that every morning.  I thank Him simply for being there, for listening, for caring, for forgiving, and for loving me. What a great gift!

This morning I went for a run after my daughter left for school.  During my run I had a conversation with God.  I prayed, let Him know how thankful I am, what I want to work on today and how I need His help.  He gave me some to-do’s for the day and some things to focus on like He usually does, but today He gave me a little more.   When I was done with my run I was walking back to our house, and as I got to our house I noticed how the sun was coming through the trees just so and you could see the rays of light shining down to the ground.  (the picture above is one I took this morning from my yard)  It was so pretty and not something I usually see.  I immediately knew it was a little gift from God.  I felt He was telling me He enjoyed our talk, and He wanted to remind me that He is always there listening to me and loving me. 

What a great way to start your day!

Plastic Pearls

We had a guest speaker yesterday at church.  His name was Joe White and he and his wife, Debbie Jo, own the Kanakuk Kamps in Missouri.   They have 9 different Christian sport Kamps for kids, mainly high school age.   He told us about some of the kids he works with and how so many of their lives have been transformed through Christ.  He even shared his own story, and how he is facing cancer right now, but he trusts God with everything he has.  He is an incredibly inspirational person.

He told a story about a little girl who really wanted some pearls.  So she decided she would make her own pearl necklace with some plastic pearls.  She bought some plastic pearls and some string, and she strung them into a pretty necklace that she wore everyday.  She loved this necklace so much. 

On her birthday, her father came into her room and said “Do you trust me?”  She said “Yes, of course I do”, then he said…then give me that pearl necklace.  She said “Daddy!  Why do you want my necklace?  I can’t give it to you”.  So the next year on her birthday, he did the same thing.  Figuring she was a year older and may respond differently.  He came into her room and asked her again…”Do you trust me?”  “Yes, Dad, of course” she said.  So he proceeded to ask her again for the necklace.  She asked him why he was doing this to her, that was her favorite necklace and she couldn’t give it up.  She held onto it and was very upset that he would ask for it again. 

The next year, hoping she would now trust him, he did the same thing on her birthday.  He asked once again if she trusted him, she said yes.  Then he asked again for her to give up the pearls to him.  She finally decided to do it, she said…”Dad, I do trust you, and I guess if you need me to give these to you, then I will trust you and do it”.  See the father had gotten a second job a few years ago and saved up enough money to buy her a pair of real cultured pearls.  He was saving them for when she would trust him enough to give him the plastic pearls.

Once she handed over those plastic pearls, her dad reached into his pocket and handed her the real cultured pearls. 

What an incredible analogy, don’t you think?  As he told us this story, he asked us to get out the pearls we were given when we walked in the door.  (They had handed each of us a plastic pearl as we were walking in).  He told us that just like this little girl, we all hold onto something artificial. Something we can’t let go of, that we THINK brings us happiness.  But if we turn it over to God, he will bring us true joy….like we have never known. It will be the REAL thing. 

Joe asked each of us to stop and think about what our “plastic pearl” is, what it is we are holding so tightly to, and can’t let go of.  What is it that we think gives us happiness, but it’s not the real thing.  What do we need to hand over to God?  Then he asked us to come up to the stage, and throw our pearl onto the stage, to signify that we are letting go of our “plastic pearls”, and handing them over to God on the altar. 

It was one of the most powerful messages I’ve ever heard.

Finding Fellowship

About 6 months ago, my husband and I desperately wanted to have more friends within our church.  We did not know many people other than a few acquaintances. We wanted to find ways to plug in, and we felt there wasn’t enough offered to us.  We spoke to our pastor, Mac Richard, during this time.  We told him our concerns, and that we felt there weren’t enough ways for us to connect to couples without just resorting to stopping people in the lobby and asking them to be our friends.  Playground style.  Mac  just told us that we needed to get more involved.  Wait, huh?  We had just told him we didn’t feel there was enough offered to us to get involved in.  Did he hear that part?  Turns out he did.

Here we were sort of complaining (not really, but in a sense) that we couldn’t find other couples like us to have fellowship with….and he very gently ,and matter-of-factly pointed out what we were totally missing.  Duh!  All we needed to do, was serve more, get involved more, get out there and offer more of ourselves in whatever way we could.

Isn’t that the way it is for all of us sometimes?  We want the world to come to us.  We want whatever it is we are looking for, to just knock on our door, and we will gladly let it in.  I think if we live like that, we are missing out on SO much!  We decided to do what our pastor said, we just got more involved.  We put ourselves out there in all different areas.  My husband got involved in a music camp they offered in the summer, we signed up to be HomeGroup (small group) leaders, we both have become Bible Study leaders in our respective Bible Studies, and we have each gone on the men and women’s retreats.  We also participate in our Mobile Loaves & Fishes ministry, which provides food and clothing to homeless people.  In addition, my husband has begun to work on a couple of projects with a few of the people he has met through church.  We decided we needed to give more of ourselves and in return….guess what?  We’ve met some wonderful people and we are in the process of developing lasting friendships.  Wow, amazing how that works.  It’s like our pastor knew what he was talking about or something. 

We didn’t really realize it at first…we didn’t really consciously go out and try to get involved in everything right after we spoke to him.  But I think it made us see things differently, and we slowly got more and more involved.  Now we look back…and see that he was so right!  Just do it.  Just get out there and serve, get involved….and see what happens.  As the old saying goes “If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, Mohammed must go to the mountain”. 

It’s similar to the mountain crushing Mohammed and those with him, if it did, indeed, come to them.  If we were still waiting on things to come to us….our spirits would continue to be crushed and disappointed.  The minute we “came to the mountain” we were blessed with a bunch of great people! 

Now when we walk into church on Sunday mornings, we are saying Hi to people left and right.  What a change!  I thank God for speaking through Mac to us, and for providing opportunities for fellowship where we did not see them before.  I thank Him for leading us, and guiding us in the right direction.  We know if we follow Him,  we will never be disappointed and He will always fill our needs. 

Get out there and just do it.  Get involved, serve, share more of yourself….you will not be disappointed.  I promise.