Saturday, May 6, 2017

Feed My Starving Children

Matthew 25:35-40

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
37 ‘Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison and go to visit you?”
40 ‘The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Recently my church participated in a Feed My Starving Children event. It was hosted at the high school by the NHS.  I was sort of expecting it to be like a church carry in: people show up and find something to do to help out.
It wasn't like that at all. A better way to describe it would be "extremely efficient well-oiled machine." Not to mention "marvelous fun." If you ever get the chance to be involved in a FMSC pack you should definitely do it. 
After you sign in, you watch a video explaining what you'll be doing. They send you off in your groups and everyone has a job. Because it's so well organized each job is specific and the whole operation is very fast-paced.  Our session lasted a little under two hours and the time just flew by. 
My job was to take the packs from the weighers and hold them in the press so the next person could seal them and then hand them off to the packer. I got to know the delightful girl who was sealing the packs and that in itself was a blessing.
They encouraged each group to cheer when they completed a box, My group had fun coming up with creative ways to celebrate whenever we reached our 36-pack quotas, including one "Finding Nemo" seagull imitation (Mine! MINE! minemine!) 
And, wait, there was something else special about FMSC, what was it? Oh, yeah! It provides food to hungry people. Lots of it. 
They work by donation and volunteers. People donate money and time and the result is a highly successful way to feed hungry people all over the world. In our session alone that day we packed enough food to feed over 100 children a meal a day for a year. 
Over 90% of the money they raise goes toward meal production. That means that they depend heavily on word of mouth for marketing. So I'm telling you about it in hopes that you might get involved and let others know, too. 
And one more thing. I left the high school that day feeling deeply blessed to have been a part of such something so meaningful. Could they have accomplished it had I not been there? Absolutely. God doesn't need us to carry out His plans, but He gives us opportunities to glorify His name. 
I'm a firm believer that one of the best ways to get blessed is to serve someone else. I hope I have a chance to work another of these events someday. I hope you do, too! 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Name Calling

Drop off/pick up time at my son's preschool is usually pretty uneventful, but one morning offered a small adventure.
I was getting back into my car when I noticed a little white dog running around the parking lot.  A lady was trying unsuccessfully to coax him back into her car so a few of the other preschool parents and I tried to help herd him over to her.
We called to him, whistled, and tried to corral him. He was having none of our directions but heaps of fun. It was a glorious game for the little white dog.
"What's his name?" I asked the self-conscious handler of the naughty dog.
She smiled at me apologetically. 
"Chase" was her amusing answer.
I think about names often. Naming characters, for me, is one of the hardest things about story writing. I work in a library and I'm always looking up names of patrons to process their transactions and it's fun to see how many "Susans" or how few "Scarlets" there are in the Evergreen program.
I think one of the reasons names hold fascination for me is that my name (except, perhaps, for the spelling) is so very ordinary. Just today I came across at least two people with the same name as me.  Having the same name as so many others makes me feel common and uninteresting sometimes. It's silly, I know.
But there is one thing about my name that I love: the meaning. My name means "beloved" and like Chase the mischievous dog, it fits. Not because I'm especially charming or adorable or anything, but because of The One who goes by many, many names. Here are just a few:


I am loved beyond comprehension by Him. 
And so are you.
 He takes away our orphan status and calls us sons. No matter how ordinary, rejected, unworthy or forgotten we feel we are His Beloved. 
Check out this very exciting, mysterious verse from Revelation. This was the passage was the message of a recent sermon at church and I've been thinking of it ever since:

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.                                                                       Revelation 2:17

Maybe others have given you names. The enemy sure has. Maybe you've given even yourself some. I know how that feels. Hello My Name is...Ugly? Weird? Irrelevant? Ordinary? I've worn all those names and more on my lapel. 
But no one has the authority to tell us who we are except the One who created us. Not even ourselves.
 Our Father is going to give us a new name. Something special that tells us what we really are to him. I don't really understand  all that this verse means and I certainly have no idea what sort of new name Jesus would have for us, but I know one thing: While, like Chase the dog, our name will suit us, our new name will not be one of the  soul-killing, untrue labels we've  worn here on earth. Our name will not be "Ordinary" because we are extraordinarily loved. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

I give my scared to Jesus.

In His Hands

It was a dark and stormy night.
No, really. With all respect to both Madeline L'Engle and Snoopy, it was truly windy and ominous that night and my five-year-old didn't welcome his bedtime. He was afraid the stormy sounds would be too scary to allow him to sleep.
I remembered something our pastor once said. First he reminded us about how big God is. Creator of all. Everything in His hands. Everything,including time. He created time and holds it in His hands. So that thing that's bothering you? The problem that's hanging over your head? You can put it in His hands. "Put it there in His hand," he told us, "set it right next to time."
I reminded my son that we, his family, were there. His brother was there in the room and Daddy and I just across the hall. Jesus right there with him. I told my little boy to imagine his "scared" like a stone in his hand. He could take that stone and put it right into God's hand. The same with his mad and his jealous and his embarrassed. Put it like a stone into His hand and He'll hold it for you.
Later that night my husband overheard him telling his brother,"I give my scared to Jesus."
What freedom.
You know what I love most about that? Jesus wants those things. He isn't put off by our weaknesses. He died for our sin and conquered our shortcomings with His resurrection and He wants us to give them to Him. And once surrendered they are entirely manageable in His hand.
My anxiety: spiky, corrosive, and clinging becomes a tiny pebble, cool and innocuous in His hand. My discouragement? My confusion? All of it completely manageable and un-intimidating when He is in control of it.
It's not about me. What a relief to say so. One of the many, many benefits of being His child is that my burdens are not mine to carry. He promised we would have trouble and He promised He was master of it. 

John 16:33  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

 I can give my scared to Jesus. You can give your worry, your hurt your resentment to Him. When you do feel His peace wash over you as see your trouble grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.