Removing the Bad

Sometimes we have to allow the removal of all of the rotten, before we can build something better.

On a recent mission trip that I attended, I was throwing old shingles into a dumpster. When we began our work, the dumpster was completely empty. But, after we had been at work on the home for a few days, I noticed that the dumpster was getting full.

We had to tear off all of the old shingles before we could put on new ones and they had to go into the dumpster. After we removed the old shingles, we found quite a few boards that had rotted due to weather exposure. They had to be removed and put in the dumpster as well.

If we would have put new shingles over rotten wood. The wood would have continued to rot. Those old, rotten boards would not have been able to support the weight of the new shingles and they certainly would not have held up over time.

No, the bad had to be stripped away entirely before we could build something new and lasting.

That dumpster was ugly as was all of its contents, but it was completely necessary for transformation. Its symbolism spoke to me so loudly that I had to snap a picture.

Don’t we go through a similar process when we allow Jesus to work on our hearts?

We often carry around ugly and rotten things underneath our shingled exterior. Sometimes, like that roof, no one can even see them or knows that they are there, but us.

But, like a good roofer, Jesus knows, and He comes along and chips away at that exterior, exposing the bad underneath. Everyone’s bad looks different. It may be anger, hurt, shame, pride, anxiety, resentment or anything that separates us from the love of Christ.

After He exposes it, He cuts it out and throws it in the dumpster, replacing it with faith, hope, forgiveness, and love and then He shingles over all of that with grace.

But, we have to be willing to allow Him not only to expose the bad stuff, but to remove it and throw it away. That dumpster can get pretty full and ugly, but we have to allow it to fill up so that it can be hauled away for good.

Jesus calls us to live an abundant life with Him and to be transformed into something new. In order to do that, we have to be able to worship Him with our whole hearts. We can’t do that if we are carrying around rotten parts that need to be let go.

A half-full dumpster reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy πŸ™‚

Categories: Building Christian Character, Salkehatchie Series, Trusting God | 1 Comment

Trusting God

The Creator of the Universe always has the final say.

On a recent mission trip my family took to South Carolina, we were planning on working on two houses on two different work sites. Both sites required new roofs which is not unusual for Salkehatchie mission houses.

What was unsettling was that the weather report called for 80% chance of rain on Monday and 100% on Tuesday. We were undaunted.

When a man came to our site to help us get the shingles on the roof, he told our site leader, “that there was no way he would open a roof today.”

Our site leader smiled. He told me that he started to tell him that we were working for Jesus, but he didn’t.

I had reminded the teens before we got on the roof that the Creator of the Universe was not in any way bound by its laws.

On Monday, we completely tore off the shingles on one side of the roof and replaced them. We got a few sprinkles of rain at most. After we returned to the church where we were staying and after we all got showers, it began to pour. I smiled as I ran through the drops and gave thanks.

God had come through.

The next day, the rain chances were even higher. There was a discussion about just tearing off a quarter of the shingles, but our site leader, a man of deep faith, thought better of it and gave the go ahead to get them all.

I sent out a prayer request that the weather would hold on Facebook.

I was sent to pick up some boards to replace the rotten ones. As I drove, the rain began to drizzle. I prayed out loud that God would show Himself to these teens. We were acting in faith, opening up that roof and would He please keep the rain at bay.

He once again came through. I kind of pictured Him in the heavens somewhere with His mighty hands holding back the rain, just as He had done with the Red Sea for Moses.

We finished that side of the roof with little to no rain once again and once again, when we left our work site and returned to our church, the rains came.

I giggled as I gave thanks. I will never have any idea how many people prayed for our weather on those two days, but I do know there were warriors involved. We got two roofs put on while the occupants inside stayed dry.

I am reminded that man’s laws, knowledge and predictions mean nothing to God. He has always had the final say and He always will. He demonstrated that fact to me and a bunch of teens not long ago.

Perhaps you needed to see it too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy πŸ™‚

Categories: Building Christian Character, Salkehatchie Series, Trusting God, Watching for God | Leave a comment

Inspiring Through Action

Shining the light of Christ can inspire others to do the same.

On a recent Salkehatchie mission trip to South Carolina, my group was working on a roof. If you don’t know anything about roofing, you first have to remove all the old shingles and every single nail. Then you have to replace any boards that have rotted underneath those old shingles.

It takes a while and it’s a lot of manual labor to cut out the old boards and haul up the new ones with the right measurements.

On top of that, the new shingles have to be hauled up on the roof. They come wrapped in bundles and they are heavy, very heavy, but if you broke the packages and carried them a few at the time, it would take forever.

This year, our site leader asked the man who delivered the shingles if he knew anyone with a shingle lifter. That’s a cool little contraption that lifts the shingles to the roof on a little elevator. Turns out he did know someone with one. His son-in-law had one.

Our site leader called him and he agreed to come and help us out. He drove from an hour away to get to us and it was understood that there would be a fee for the services.

When they arrived in a big white van, we found that he and his partner were very nice guys. They joked with us and picked at the kids as they lifted the shingles to one side of the house.

When they were finished, the owner asked our site leader if he was making any money on the roof. When he told him not only was he not making any money, but that the teenagers he saw before him had all paid to be able to come and help with this project, he was stunned.

He actually stopped and addressed the teens and told them in a world where kids only cared about themselves and their electronics that he was thrilled to see a bunch of them giving up time in their summer to help someone. He was well aware they could have been doing something else.

He left without charging us a penny for his services and offered to come back to lift the shingles to the other half when we were ready.

I thought about that man long after he drove away, long after that roof was done. I thought about how we so often talk about being the hands and feet of Christ and letting our light shine. But, we often miss how our doing that inspire others to do the same.

Some teens doing their part in light shining encouraged someone else to be a part of our mission too. Isn’t that what we are all called to do?

Have an awesome day!
Wendy πŸ™‚

Categories: Building Christian Character, Salkehatchie Series, Watching for God | Leave a comment

A Reminder to Pray

Prayer creates a safety net.

On a recent mission trip that my family attended, I found myself sidelined with an injury. As I sat down, annoyed at my misfortune, I was reminded that I had also been sidelined with an injury, on my very first day, on my very first trip, three years before.

I had been picking up shingles and turned my back in just the right way that brought me to my knees in pain. I walked and prayed, afraid to return to the roof. I took some ibuprofen. At first, I asked God to please stop the pain in my back.

I knew He had brought me there for a reason and I couldn’t imagine that it was for me not to participate. I ended up repeating the verse over and over, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

I spent that day getting to know the homeowner and hearing his story. It was a blessing. I woke up the next day very close to pain free and I went back on the roof.

I was a little wiser this time and I prayed and watched. Another adult had a minor injury too. When the third approached me looking for something in the first aid kit, I went on alert. Three could not have been a coincidence. We were under attack.

I began to diligently pray that God would keep us safe and that Jesus would intervene and remove whatever it was that we were fighting.

By Tuesday all was well. The rest of our week proceeded without incident.

But, the lesson remained with me long after I returned home.

When we are doing God’s work, we tend to think we are somehow bulletproof. We forget that is when Satan is most likely to come after us and so we let our guards down.

Think about it, if we are out doing what we are not supposed to be doing, Satan will leave us alone. Why bother? But, when we are doing God’s work and following Christ, we have targets on us.

Fortunately, we have the Armor of God to protect us. However, armor is no good sitting in the corner. We have to put it on and Ephesians 6:18 says to pray always.

It’s easy to focus on the safety of the physical, but we sometimes forget that the spiritual is a serious force to be reckoned with. The Bible tells us that the unseen is where our biggest fight is.

Make no mistake, we can win because Jesus will win. But, along the way, we are called to be vigilant.

A small injury reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy πŸ™‚

Categories: Biblical Wisdom, Building Christian Character, Salkehatchie Series | Leave a comment

Seeing Beyond the Surface

Seeing beyond the surface can produce amazing results.

On my family’s recent mission trip to South Carolina, my hubby and son were assigned to Site 2 to work on. The home had been recommended to our team and required a massive amount of work.

It needed a roof. The bathroom floor had soft spots and holes in it. You could literally see the ground. The sink was broken from where a family member had fallen on it after having a stroke. The kitchen had holes in the floor and ceiling, and had to be completely gutted.

I remember thinking how badly it smelled when I toured it. I later was reminded of those thoughts, when a pastor pointed out that poverty has a smell that you never forget. His words brought tears to my eyes when I realized I had missed that fact.

The homeowner, Eric, was a man who lived with his mentally disabled mother. She wasn’t very verbal and went to a day care every day while he worked. He didn’t have much to say as we walked through his house. His shirt was on inside out and backwards. He didn’t seem very grateful to me.

I later learned that when they went in to look at the house, he never made eye contact, and at one point, told them to do whatever they needed to do and went into a room and closed the door.

I’m ashamed to say that I don’t know if I would have continued with the walk through. Did he not care that help was coming?

But, people much wiser than I am were in charge. They recognized what I would have considered apathy, as utter and complete embarrassment at his situation. Imagine your house falling down around you with roaches running around and a bunch of people in nice clothes and cars asking for a tour.

He needed help. He wanted help. He was too ashamed to ask. Have you ever been there? Have you ever missed a chance to help someone who has been there?

Personally, I can answer yes to both questions.

The people from Salkehatchie, told him with the amount of work required, that he would have to do some of the tearing out himself, or they would never be able finish.

When our group arrived, he had done just as he had been asked. Turns out he was grateful for the help.

He was working during most of the work, so the kids didn’t get to spend much time with him, but the work they did transformed not only his home, but Eric as well.

When the entire camp toured the house on the last day, the change was amazing. There was a new roof, new carpet, new paint, new bathroom floors and ceilings, new cabinets and sinks, and a brand new fresh smell.

And perhaps most importantly, Eric was changed too. He had a smile on his face as he was presented with a Bible. He had on a clean shirt and he stood up tall. He even asked where the carpet came from so he could put some in one of the bedrooms.

It seems that the work done for him inspired him to continue it. Isn’t that amazing?

Eric’s story reminds me to be very careful and prayerful when deciding who we extend a hand to. Because sometimes those people who we judge as ungrateful or unworthy, are the people who need it most of all.

Perhaps you needed reminding too. I pray I never forget.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy πŸ™‚

Categories: Building Christian Character, Salkehatchie Series, Watching for God | 2 Comments

Seeing Beyond No Trespassing Signs

Sometimes we have to let faith take the lead.

My family and I just returned from our Salkehatchie summer mission trip in South Carolina. It’s always amusing to see the look on people’s faces when we tell them where we went. When you say the word mission trip, people picture far off places like Haiti and countries in Africa.

But, my family has discovered a deep need for help just one state over from where God has planted us.

My daughter and I were assigned to site 1 this year and were blessed to meet a Godly woman, named Ms. Barbara, with a beautiful, quiet spirit. I found the story of how God led us to her incredibly inspiring.

Ms. Barbara, is a high school custodian. If you know anything about how schools work, then you know that custodians are some of the hardest working, most underpaid people you will ever meet.

She had broken her foot on the job and was out of work. Her goal was to heal and go back for one more year and then retire. That fact alone impressed me. She could have easily retired on disability, but that was not how she wanted to go out.

She desperately missed the teens she was in constant contact with, (another reason for a medal in my book!) I later learned that she often attended basketball and football games to support some of the high school kids who had parents that could not attend, for whatever reason.

I also learned that on most Saturdays, she was not home for part of the day because she was opening the weight room for one of those kids she was mentoring.

But, God was at work.

One Saturday, our camp director and site leader were looking for a house to work on. They felt led down a particular road. They ended up at a house badly in need of a roof, but with “No Trespassing,” signs in the windows. But, the Holy Spirit is not deterred by man’s warnings. They cautiously got out and knocked on the door.

Ms. Barbara had her sister with her and answered the door. She said she had a good feeling about them and welcomed them in. Our site leader immediately noticed the “Last Supper” carving, hanging on the wall. They knew they were in the right place.

They talked about what we do at Salkehatchie Summer Service. She told them they were an answer to prayers and shared some other repairs that her home needed.

When I spoke to Ms. Barbara later, she told me that she had been praying for help for a long time about her leaky roof and had become discouraged, but that God had told her someone was coming. He just didn’t say who.

The fact that it was teenagers, just made her day, since she had a soft spot for them and missed being around them.

As we repaired her home last week, I learned a lot from Ms. Barbara. I learned about tireless faith. I learned about waiting on God and I learned about His perfect timing.

In the end, Ms. Barbara helped me as much as I helped her. She was an inspiration. Perhaps you needed some inspiration today.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy πŸ™‚

Categories: Community, Watching for God | 1 Comment

Embracing Mary

Taking time to remember that we are all called to play a part in somebody’s village, could change how we see everything.

I was reluctant to sit down and write this post. I have so many things going on at the moment. My family is heading to South Carolina tomorrow for our Salkehatchie mission trip. There’s laundry to be done. There are suitcases to pack and where did I put my work gloves?

But, even as I yearned to get my to-do list checked off, I also felt a quiet voice which told me that I needed to take a time out and prepare myself spiritually for my trip as well.

It wasn’t loud or bossy. It was gentle, but persistent. It reminded me that quiet reflection time with Jesus trumps all we can physically do every single time. So I shushed my inner Martha for a little while at least, and attempted to embrace my inner Mary.

As usual, when I obey the calling of Christ, I was not disappointed.

I was reminded how life changing this particular mission field has been for my daughter. This will be her 4th trip. When she went the first time, she was so quiet and shy that she just did her best to scoot out of everyone’s way. It earned her the nickname Scooter. Everyone there calls her that. It’s a name she wears now with pride, one that she will treasure forever.

This year, she has been asked to bring her guitar and lead all of our worship songs in the evenings. She’s been practicing for days, which makes me give thanks for Vanda, her guitar teacher for seven years. Vanda’s time and love contributed to a gift that my daughter will carry for the rest of her life.

It’s so amazing when we have those special moments when we can look back on what has been and we can see God’s fingerprints all over our past. I’m so very thankful for the mighty village that God has gifted both of my children with.

I am reminded that we all have the opportunity and the calling to be a part of somebody’s village. We have the choice to make a positive kingdom impact on everyone’s lives that we touch. We have no idea the difference that a word of encouragement can make for someone or for that matter, we have no idea what kind of difference just sitting with someone and listening to them can make.

There are even times when a silly little nickname can change someone’s life forever. I’m glad I took a time out. Perhaps you need one too.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy πŸ™‚

PS Due to the fact that I will likely spend much of next week on a roof in South Carolina, I won’t be posting next week. But, I’m super excited to see how God will reveal Himself on our trip and I look forward to sharing with you back here. My family would appreciate your prayers.

Categories: Building Christian Character, Salkehatchie Series, Watching for God | 4 Comments

Building Strong Faith

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

Last Sunday, our pastor spoke of the trials that had befallen a woman who was seeking to answer her calling to the ministry. The more she pursued her calling, the rougher her life had become.

I have also heard him speak of his own early beginnings in the ministry where he loaded up a U-haul truck with all of his belongings along his wife and young family and headed to where he was sent. On the way, their truck was stolen along with all of their earthly possessions.

He talked of being angry and not understanding why God wasn’t rewarding him for being obedient.

But, he also spoke about the amazing grace of a congregation who jumped in and provided for every one of their needs. His family could not have experienced that love, that blessing, if their truck had not been stolen.

The Prosperity Gospel is wildly popular these days. It goes something like, if we follow God, we will receive everything we have ever wanted in worldly goods. Nothing bad will ever happen to us. It sounds so good that it’s very tempting to believe. Unfortunately, it’s contrary to the scripture.

What we find in the Bible, is that the closer we get to God, the rougher life sometimes gets.

My pastor explained it with a football analogy. If you see Nick Chubb run and make a touchdown and feel inspired to play football, then you would join a team. The coach would never give you the football the first day and tell you to run it. There are endless drills, and lots of running, and lots of blood sweat and tears that seem like they have nothing to do with being a star player.

But, the coach knows the truth: Star players are not born. They are built.

Anyone who remembers the original Karate Kid, remembers Old Mr. Miyagi, “teaching” Daniel-San the art of karate. He had him painting fences and waxing cars. It looked to the student like he was simply doing chores. But, Miyagi knew what he was doing and in the end, he was teaching Daniel-San to be a fierce fighter.

And so it is with us in our Christian walk. God wants to make us warriors who can do anything He calls us to do. He wants us to be fierce and wise. He wants us to be able to glorify His name and build His kingdom in any circumstances, not only the ideal ones.

Strength can only come from hard work and perseverance, and overcoming what sometimes seems like the impossible. Fortunately for us, the longer we walk with Jesus, the more we come to understand that nothing is impossible with God.

Perhaps you needed reminding today.

Have an awesome day!
Wendy πŸ™‚

Categories: Biblical Wisdom, Building Christian Character | 3 Comments

Celebrating Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a perfect time to say thanks for our fellow Americans who have died to keep us free.

Memorial Day is the perfect time to give thanks for our fellow Americans who have died to keep us free.

Today is Memorial Day. For most of us, it’s the kick off of summer. The banks are closed and the mail won’t run. Lots of folks have headed out of town to the beach or the lake. Many people will be grilling hamburgers in their backyards. Americans will take this day to enjoy what it means to live in the United States of America.

We can take the day off. We have that right. We can travel anywhere we want. We can wear whatever we want to whatever place we are going. We can say whatever we want when we arrive. We can criticize our government. We can marry whomever we please and divorce them, for that matter. We can worship whomever we want, in whatever way we want.

We have more freedoms in this great land than most any other place on the planet. We are so accustomed to them, that we often take them for granted. Memorial Day is a day to remember that our freedom comes with a heavy price tag.

Unlike Veteran’s Day, which is set aside to honor all of those who have served, Memorial Day was set aside to honor those who have died defending this great nation.

The beginnings of Memorial Day go back to 1868, three years after the Civil War when Major General John A. Logan declared that Declaration Day should be observed May 3oth. It was to be a day when those who died in the war were to be remembered with flowers on their graves. The story goes that May was chosen because there were so many flowers already in bloom.

Many different Β types of ceremonies took place all over the North and South who still weren’t very united at the time. There is a story that in Mississippi, near the Battlefield of Shiloh, there were women putting flowers on Confederate graves and they were so disturbed by the bare graves of the Union soldiers, that they placed flowers on their graves as well. It seems at least a small amount of healing had begun.

The ceremonies went on for many years in various areas with various differences until after World War 1. After that war, the day was expanded to include all Americans who had died in wars. It was made a national holiday by Congress in 1971.

So, as we take this day to enjoy everything that we get to enjoy about being Americans, let’s take a moment to remember those who fought and died to bring us where we are today. Let’s thank God for their service. Let’s thank God for their sacrifice. Let’s thank God for His hand in shaping this great nation. Let us remember, Ronald Reagan’s quote, “If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

May we never forget.

Have an awesome day!

Wendy πŸ™‚

Categories: Holidays | 1 Comment

Hearing and Acting

The strongest foundations are built on rock.

I recently came across a passage in Matthew 7:24-27. It’s often called, “The Wise and Foolish Builders.” It’s a familiar story for me, one I learned in Sunday school as a child. I think there may even have been visual aids.

Jesus tells the story of a wise man and a foolish man. He says that people who hear His words and put them into practice are like a wise man who built his house on a rock. When the rain came and the streams rose and the wind blew, his house did not fall because its foundation was on the rock.

Then, He says that people who hear His words and do not put them into practice, are like the foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rains came; the streams rose; and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell with a great crash.

But, as a child, I couldn’t fully appreciate the importance of foundations. Sand and rocks were things I played with, not things I would build on.

Fast forward and I know all about sandy ground and sink holes and what happens when houses aren’t built on sturdy ground.

I’m also much more aware of Jesus’ wording here. It’s not enough to hear His words. In other words, sitting in church once a week, or tuning into a television sermon and simply listening, doesn’t fit the bill. He says to be like the wise man, we must first hear his words and then put them into practice. Hearing is not enough.

Our faith is not passive. It also requires some doing. That doesn’t mean we have to go on mission trips in far off lands. That doesn’t mean we have to become pastors. It means we have to do things like love God and love each other. It means we have to care about the widows and the orphans, and all of those who are less fortunate.

These are the actions that grow our faith and we need our faith to be strong because in both instances, Jesus said the rain and the wind came.

Storms come at us on this side of eternity whether we are faithful or not, but those who are wise and listen to Jesus’ words and put them into practice, are able to stand, for their foundation is built on the rock. That beats the alternative any day.

A story of sand and rock reminded me. Perhaps you needed reminding too.

Have an awesome day!

Categories: Biblical Wisdom, Building Christian Character | Leave a comment