“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
November 2004. I got a call that my mother was taken to the hospital because she had no feeling in her left leg. She went to bed fine the night before. In the morning, she fell to the floor with no ability to use her leg. I believe that the doctors really had no idea what was going on. So, they just sent her to a nursing home for physical therapy.
It worsened. And quickly, she lost use of her left arm too. In January, we insisted on more testing to determine the cause.
Then, failing kidneys was discovered too.
I’ll spare you all of the sad, disappointing details. But long story short, the prognosis was that we only had a few more months together.
I first learned the power of hospitality in a strip club.
Up until the COVID shutdown, I volunteered with a local organization that shares the hope and love of Jesus with women in the sex industry. Twice a month, we entered strip clubs with homemade meals or special gifts in hand, welcoming the ladies into fellowship. Where a wall of reservation initially separated them from us, our loving acts of hospitality removed that barrier.
As we sat down and ate together time and again, trust was built, and conversations deepened. Stories of pain and dreams for the future were entrusted to us. Our hospitable acts showed the love of Jesus in a tangible way, which naturally led to profound conversations about faith and spirituality. Sometimes we were privileged to pray with the ladies right there in the strip club. Jesus was magnified in the most unlikely of places, and lives were changed.
I love the book of Deuteronomy! So, when the pages of Deuteronomy came up in my read-your-Bible-in-a-year, I was so pumped.
True North: Finding Joy in the Journey
Do you ever find yourself circling the same mountain over and over? Each of our mountains will be different from the other. But there are days you find yourself stuck or fixated on the same issue, the same mind game, the same struggle and you wonder how do I move from here to there?
This is a lie that we are fed daily in our lives, especially on social media.
If only we could get up earlier, buy this planner, take this course, or be more like our Facebook friends who seem to have it all together. Then things would be better. We would be more organized, be a better mother, our kids would behave better, get better grades etc.
It all sounds so simple.
But whatever we try, it doesn’t work. Maybe for a few days, but not long term.
It was a beautiful summer day. It was really a perfect day to be at an amusement park. It had been years since I had been to Storyland. My parents had taken me there a few times when I was just a kid but I had never taken my kids.
We had fun with our extended family, letting the kids explore the rides and also exploring the exhibits that highlighted all the popular stories we heard as kids. We saw the old woman who lived in a shoe. We crouched down low as we went through the house where Goldilocks and the three bears had their adventure.
We were walking along moving from one exhibit to the next when I suddenly realized that my six-year-old little boy was no longer with us. There was little immediate panic because we had so much family with us. There were probably twenty of us. We figured he must’ve been with somebody else. As we started to ask, “Where is Tyler?”, the mumbling went through the group and the response was always, “I don’t know”.
Even as a kid, I learned quickly that there are times of want and times of plenty, times when I had the world by the tail and times where my world was in a tailspin.
I found myself in one of those situations a few years back. In my grief, I quickly realized that prayer was really hard! Sometimes to put words together seemed nearly impossible. I knew it was crucial that I begin to take my thoughts captive.
It was then that I created a Pinterest board titled, “Inspiration”. I collected graphics of verses that became my lifeline. In the wee hours of the night, I would find myself reading through those verses. I could quickly tell that speaking these words and reading these words was actually opening my heart to begin to feel the truth in these words.
“I can’t believe it! What kind of person would steal pencils from a church?! I saw that little old lady going around and taking the pencils from the backs of the pews and putting them in her purse.”
The pastor smiled. “She isn’t stealing them. She noticed that the pencils had gotten dull and took it upon herself to take care of that need. She gathers the dull ones and takes them home to sharpen them.”
At this part of the story, I imagine Emily Litella (classic SNL) sheepishly saying, “Well, that’s quite different. Nevermind.” LOL!
I remember hearing this simple story years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. I want to be that kind of person.
See a need, fill a need.
This lady saw the dull pencils and decided, “I can help.”
If you look around you, you’ll see need everywhere. We can’t personally solve all that is wrong or broken in this world. BUT there are plenty of things that we can do to make a difference.