Blog

Mother’s Little Helpers

Big chocolate eyes gazed up at me adoringly.  “Mama, I want to help you!” my young child exclaimed with great enthusiasm.  My heart melted.  Someone wanted to help me without being asked or forced to!  Someone was actually volunteering happily!

I looked around my messy house.  With seven children nine and under, there was always something needing to be done.  “Okay, great!  Please put away all the toys in the living room!”  “Aw, I wanted to feed the baby.”

“Well, I just fed the baby so he doesn’t need to eat right now, but the toys do need to be put away.”  “I’ll just wait until the baby is hungry again to help you!”

“Mama, I want to help you!”  “Great, please set the table for supper.”  “Aw, I was hoping we could make cookies!”

“Mama, I want to help you!”  “Great, please change the baby’s diaper.”  “Gross, I only wanted to change his clothes!”

Lest you now think my J’s were terrible children, these conversations are products of my imagination and any relation to actual happenings is purely coincidental.  My kiddos were pretty good “mother’s little helpers” back in the day, but I do remember when they volunteered to help, their idea of what needed to be done was often very different from mine!

Sometimes we volunteer to serve the Lord with the same attitude.  “Lord, I want to help you!”  “Okay, the church bathroom is a mess.  Go clean it up.”  “Wait, Lord,  I wanted to do something more exciting like speak at the next women’s Bible study.”

“Lord, I want to serve you.”  “Great, take care of that visitor’s crying baby so they can hear the gospel message.”  “Hey, it’s not my turn in the nursery.  I’ve already raised my own kids and retired from the babysitting business.  Can’t somebody else do that?  I want to sing a special Sunday morning.”

“Lord, I want to help you.”  “Wonderful!  Go talk to that woman that nobody wants to be friends with.  Invite her to your house for a meal.”  “Whoa!  Wait a minute.  I can’t invite her into my house.  She is always criticizing me.  She’ll talk trash about my home and food.  I can’t be friends with her!  I want to organize homecoming Sunday!”

“Lord, I want to serve you.”  “Excellent!  The bus route needs more workers.”  “Oh no, anything but that!  It’s too hot on the bus in the summer and way too cold in the winter!  I don’t have the patience to deal with a bunch of noisy, squirming kids!  I want to be in charge of flower arrangements!”

We feel so good about ourselves because we “volunteer” to serve, but often we only  volunteer when, and where and how we want to!  God wants us to volunteer with no strings attached, willing to serve whenever, wherever and however He desires!

Our hearts feel a special joy when our children help us cheerfully without complaining.  I believe that God is also pleased when we serve Him in whatever task He calls us to do–no matter how insignificant or distasteful.

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much….” Luke 16:10.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Buried Any Talents Lately?

Buried any talents lately?  What gifts has God given us that we are not using for His honor and glory?  What keeps us from using our God-given abilities to their fullest potential?

Matthew 25 tells an interesting parable about servants who were given talents by their master with the task of earning more talents in his absence.  The servant given five talents gained five additional talents.  The servant given two talents also gained two more.  To both of these servants the master said the exact same words:  “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”  Matthew 25:21,23.  It’s very interesting to note that the servant with four talents received the exact same praise as the servant with ten talents.  The master was pleased because they both had diligently done their best with what was given to them.

However, the master was highly displeased with the servant who did not even try to earn more talents.  The saddest words are found in verse 30:  “And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  How tragic to be called an unprofitable servant!

What was the unprofitable servant’s excuse?  “And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth….”  Matthew 25:25.  Though the parable is referring to money, we can also apply its truths to the talents God has given us.  Just like the unprofitable servant, many times fear keeps us from developing our talents for the Lord.

Sometimes we are afraid because we already know other people who are much more gifted in certain areas than we are.  When I was a young girl, I longed to play the piano.  We had no piano at that time so I began praying asking God to give me a piano.  The Lord answered my prayer, and I was thrilled to begin taking piano lessons.  Though I had a great desire to play the piano, I was not naturally gifted.

I grew up with Star Kelley Bancroft, a naturally gifted pianist, who at a very young age could play difficult pieces and compose her own beautiful arrangements.  It was easy to look at her and other talented pianists and think, “Why try?  I might as well give up!  I will never be as good a pianist as they are!”  One day I realized a very “profound” truth.  Star could only play one piano at a time!  There was room for me!  How glad I am that I didn’t quit.  Years later when I was privileged to play for church services in Mexico, God fulfilled a dream and desire of my heart.

The deciding factor should not be Can somebody else do this better than me?” but rather Does God want me to be doing this?  God will be pleased if we do our best with the talents He has given to us regardless of how many talents He has given to others.  Let’s dig back up the talents we may have buried or neglected and start using all our God-given abilities for His honor and glory!

15 Year Anniversary God is our Rock

Every time I see an ambulance go by with siren blaring, I try to stop and say a prayer for whoever is inside and their family.  I know how it feels to ride in an ambulance with your heart in your throat wondering if your husband who just had a heart attack is going to be all right or not.  I know how it feels to drive behind an ambulance with seven young kids in tow who had to leave the state fair unexpectedly before riding even one ride because their daddy got sick suddenly.

Today we celebrate the 15th anniversary of Jacinto’s massive heart attack at age 38 in Mexico.   Fifteen years ago during that hard time of stress, confusion, and painful transitions several verses became a special blessing and comfort to my soul.

“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.”  Psalm 40:2.  I love the Spanish translation which calls the horrible pit the “well of desperation”.  Many times during those difficult days I felt like I was drowning in a well of desperation but was comforted by the knowledge that God was my rock and that God Himself promised to set my feet on that rock when I lacked the strength to do so.

It’s not my strength that matters.  What matters is the strength of the rock upon which I’m standing.  “The Lord is my rockand my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.”  Psalm 18:2

It’s not my holiness but His holiness that sustains me on the rock.  “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”  Deuteronomy 32:4.

It’s not my understanding of the situation that matters.  What matters is that He will comfort me in the midst of my confusion.  “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”  Psalm 61:2.

It’s not my ability that will keep me from failing but His defense.  “He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved.”  Psalm 62:6.

It’s not my own strength that will keep me from falling but His strength.  “In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.”  Psalm 62:7.

The unsaved do not have the blessing of resting and depending on God as their rock.  “For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.”
Deuteronomy 32:31.

I’m so thankful today for God’s goodness in allowing us to celebrate Jacinto’s 15th anniversary of surviving a massive heart attack.  We are blessed!

“The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.”  Psalm 18:46.

 

 

Where, oh where, has my contact gone? Oh where, oh where can it be?

I started wearing glasses when I was in the first grade.  Like most kids I hated wearing glasses especially when I became a teenager.  So when I was 14, I begged my dad to buy me contacts.  Being a business man, he offered me a deal.  Dad would get me contacts if I would do two things for him:  keep my bedroom clean and enjoy working in the garden.

Keeping my room clean wouldn’t be too hard a task but enjoying working in the garden?!! I considered working in the garden unpaid slave labor.  My dad would make us pick up rocks for what seemed like endless hours to a bored teen!  He liked everything perfectly square.  So he made me use a yardstick when planting peanuts and other crops to measure exactly four inches apart.  There was no guess work involved in Al Byers’ perfectly straight garden rows!  Still I wanted contacts so badly that I agreed to the deal.  No more messy bedroom and smiling during unpaid slave labor gardening hours!

After wearing glasses for eight years, I was thrilled to get my first pair of contacts!  This was long ago and far away when people with eyesight as poor as mine had to use hard lenses!  They took some getting used to and would occasionally get stuck in the corner of your eye (ouch!) or fall out.  Then you had the fun of trying to find them!

I prayed many times for God to help me find lost contacts!  Lost one in shag carpet in the dean of women’s office at college, and God helped me find it!  Lost one in a station wagon riding home from college for my first Thanksgiving break, and God helped a friend find it the next morning!  Lost one washing dishes, and God helped me find it stuck to the side of a dirty pot!

One night in Mexico I was hanging up wet clothes on a clothes line outside our small house when once again I lost a contact.  I prayed, “Lord, I know that you know exactly where my contact is.  Please help me find it.”  For some unknown reason, I immediately stuck my finger inside the sleeve of a little dress hanging on the clothes line, and there was my contact!

My son Jason inherited my poor eyesight and just like me hated wearing glasses.  So when he was in the sixth grade I got him his first pair of contacts.  During his first week of wearing them, his teacher came up to me after school one afternoon and informed me that Jason had lost a contact on the back playground.  The back playground at his school was full of playground equipment, running children, and lots and lots of sand!

Not feeling too hopeful I dropped the other J’s off at home and returned to the playground with Jason to see if we could find his lost contact.   Jason took me to the spot where he had been when his contact fell out.  A breeze was blowing, and other children were running around playing.  It seemed totally impossible that we could find a tiny contact on that sandy playground.

Again I prayed, “Lord, you know exactly where Jason’s contact is.  Please help us find it!”  A little girl came running by and asked us what we were looking for.  When we explained, she exclaimed, “Is that it?” and pointed to the ground near us.  Sure enough there it was!  What were the odds?  Only God could have showed that little girl where the contact was!  We picked it up, took it home, cleaned it up, and Jason started wearing it again!

“Now unto him that is able to do EXCEEDING ABUNDANTLY above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory….”  Ephesians 3:20-21.

 

 

 

When Jesus Calls Your Name

Her heart was broken more than she could have imagined a heart could break.  Sleep was an impossibility so she got up early while it was still dark and went to visit his gravesite.  To her utter bewilderment the stone has been removed from the tomb doorway.  She imagines the worst–someone has stolen the body of her beloved Lord!

So she ran–the news was too urgent for walking–to report to the disciples that Jesus’ body had disappeared without a trace.  The disciples race off to see for themselves, and Mary walks slowly back to the tomb.  No need to hurry now.  She weeps because the pain is unbearable.  Her Savior, whose teaching completely transformed her life, has been tortured and murdered, and now she cannot even anoint and honor His broken body.  She thinks this is the end of everything–that she will never see His beloved face again.

As if she still cannot fully believe what has happened, she bends over and peers into the sepulcher.  This time she sees two angels sitting where Jesus’ body had previously lain.  They ask why she weeps.  She doesn’t seem offended by strangers asking such a personal question.  She answers softly through her pain, “They have taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where He is.”

She turns away still weeping and through her falling tears sees a man but does not recognize him.  Again she is asked why she weeps.  Thinking he is the gardener, she replies, “If you are the one who moved the body, please tell me where you put him, and I will take care of him.”

Jesus replies, “MARY!”  As soon as she hears her name, joy floods her soul extinguishing all her sorrow in one glorious instant!  Immediately she knows this man is no gardener!  This man is the one she was seeking–her Lord and her Master!

Sometimes heartache in our lives is so great and the pain so unbearable that like Mary we cannot sleep and find ourselves waking in the dark long before dawn.  In the stillness of the night the old wounds ache.  We weep and because the pain is so great we cannot lie still but get up and pace restlessly as the tears flow down our cheeks.

We imagine the worst:  What if God never answers my prayer?  What if God does not choose to heal?  What if the debt cannot be paid in time?  What if the prodigal never comes to himself and returns home?   What if God has abandoned us and does not care?

Our hearts feel irreparably shattered beyond any hope.  Then Jesus comes and asks, “Why are you weeping?  Who are you seeking?”  He speaks our name!  He knows our needs!  He cares!  And suddenly the realization of who He is diminishes once again all our heartache and uncertainty.  Our tears are dried, our pain relieved as we turn and call him, “MASTER!”

And the Peace of God

In the darkness of the night we lay in bed quietly not saying a word.  Many thoughts were swirling through our minds.   Bright and early the next morning Jacinto was scheduled to have open heart surgery.  There were so many scary unknowns.  So many possible outcomes including the possibility that the operation would not be successful.  To go through all the pain of surgery and recovery with no results to show for it….

Suddenly Jacinto said calmly, “Let’s pray.”  We held hands and prayed.  He told the Lord that he would like to have more years to see his children finish growing up and to spend time with future grandchildren and to serve the Lord.  He also told the Lord that his life was in His hands and that we trusted Him with our future.

Then my husband turned over and went to sleep!  Just like that!  In less than five minutes he was snoring!  I stared at his back in wonder.  This was not Jacinto Aguilar, the Hispanic pastor of Grace Baptist Church, preaching on the peace of God from the pulpit.  This was Jacinto Aguilar, the man, resting in God’s peace enough to go right to sleep the night before a major, potentially life-changing operation!

Philippians 4:7 was real in Jacinto’s life:  “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your HEARTS and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Why did Jacinto not lie awake in bed worrying all night long?  The peace of God was keeping his heart and mind!

Before you experience the peace of God in crisis situations, you cannot explain it.  After you experience the peace of God in crisis situations, you still cannot explain it!  It truly passes understanding.  Our vocabulary is too limited to explain it, our hearts too dumbfounded to express it.  But it is real, so real, that sometimes it seems one could almost reach out and physically touch it because God’s peace is so very present in the room!

Jacinto went back to work yesterday!  Our hearts are filled with gratitude to our wonderful God whose incomprehensible peace has sustained us every step of the way!

God, Are You Still There?

Recently while on a family vacation, I took five-year-old Joey to the bathroom.  I stood by the sinks inside that bathroom quietly daydreaming while Joey did his business.  Suddenly a panic-stricken little voice called out, “Mom, are you still here?”  “Of course, I am here,” I replied.  “I am waiting for you.”

A few minutes went by in silence, then again a little voice with a quaver called out, “Mom, are you still there?”  “Yes, I am here,” I reassured.  “I would never leave you in here by yourself.”  When Joey came out of the bathroom stall, he exclaimed, “I thought you had left me!”  “I would NEVER leave you,” I again stated.  “You are my treasure, and I love you.  I would never leave you alone.”

Suddenly it hit me that I have the same conversation with God sometimes.  There are times when I do not feel His presence in the midst of my problems.  Panic-stricken I cry out, “God, are you there?”  He seems to whisper back, “Of course, I am here.  I am waiting for you.”

Sometimes I do not see God working in my life and family as I long for Him to do.  Again I cry out with a quaver, “God, are you still there?”  Have you abandoned us?”  Lovingly He replies, “You are my treasure, and I love you.  I will NEVER leave you nor forsake you!”

(Written in 2005 but a great reminder for my family in 2018!)