Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Help Wanted

            Six years ago I was working as the director of a small inner-city Christian school. Our building was downtown and it’s sidewalks were the main thoroughfare for the homeless population of Amarillo. Needless to say, we had interesting encounters on a daily basis. The front door to our building remained locked, and when the bell rang I’d leave my office to answer it. Discovering who (and sometimes what) was behind the door was always an adventure.
            One day, I answered the door to find an elderly man standing with a rag over his shoulder and a painter’s pole in his hand. “Excuse me ma’am,” he said “Can I wash your windows for twenty-dollars?” This was a pretty typical request and at first I refused, but he persisted politely. Finally, I gave in and gave him the job of washing the large windows on the outside of the building.
            After settling on the terms of our agreement, I went back to work only to hear the doorbell ring again. I answered it to find the now familiar face of the window washer standing there with yet another request. “Do you happen to have a bucket and a hose I could borrow to wash your windows?” He asked.
            In the spirit of helping this guy out, I scrounged up an old paint bucket and showed him where the spigot was to run some water outside. In anticipation of the next need on his list, I even threw in a little dish soap.
            Back to my office I went, and was barely seated in my chair when the doorbell rang for the third time. There was the “window washer” again saying, “Looks like I’ve got everything, and I have this pole so I’d be able to reach the tops of those windows . . .if I had a squeegee. But I don’t.”
            By this time, I had become frustrated enough to just give him the twenty-dollars, let him keep the bucket and wished him well in his window washing enterprise.  
            The other day while planning and preparing for a busy week, I started to feel overwhelmed. In those moments there’s not a lot of time to devote to prayer. As a matter of fact there is a more distinct shift over to self-reliance. The mantra becomes, “We’ll get it all done. Somehow.” It’s evident by the inevitable crash and burn feeling left after the flurry of activity that I’m not handling life in a way God intends for His child.
            God has called us to do great things, but not in our own strength. Without Him it is impossible. Just like the window washer, we bring nothing to the table. Any gift, effective word, any useful resource, whatever compassion and strength we have is given by God’s grace. We must walk in an understanding of our total dependence upon Him, so that we might know where to send others and they too can find life.
Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens – Jesus the Son of God - let us hold fast to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.”

            We serve a God who calls us into His presence and there we find “ . . . mercy and grace to help us at the proper time”.  In this busy season, may we call on Jesus and rely on Him to equip us in everyway so that we can accomplish great and mighty things in His name.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

So Send I You

While planning for worship last week I found this hymn written by Margaret Clarkson. Margaret Clarkson had survived a very turbulent childhood then went on to be a teacher. She wanted to be a missionary, but instead became a teacher in a mining community and a lumber camp. 

During this early time of teaching, while she was experiencing very dark and lonely days, she wrote a the hymn, "So Send I You". 

She explained,  "I experienced deep loneliness of every kind—mental, cultural and particularly, spiritual—I found no Bible-teaching church fellowship, and only one or two isolated Christians, in those years. Studying the Word one night and thinking of the loneliness of my situation, I came to John 20, and the words ‘So send I you.’ Because of a physical disability I could never go to the mission field, and this was where He had sent me. I had written verse all my life, so [in 1954] it was natural for me to express my thoughts in a poem."

Later Margaret became a teacher, and aspired to be a Biblical writer. As she reflected on the original verses of her hymn, she became convicted that while it was a sober and challenging expression of following Jesus, it did not accurately convey the "glory and hope of the missionary calling". She then wrote four new verses to her hymn "So Send I You" which was republished in 1963. 

This song really spoke to my heart. Following Jesus is a journey full of refining fires and victories. Through it all, as we grow in the Lord and experience His grace, we find rest in the peace of Christ. I decided to take two verses of each set of lyrics and arranged them with a chorus. 

Learn more about Margaret Clarkson and this beautiful hymn here

Friday, September 5, 2014

Off The Chain

            We have been fostering our rescue Ridgeback named Nala for about three weeks now and have decided to adopt her. We really wanted a boy dog, but Nala has stolen our hearts. She had never been around children, so we weren’t sure how she would get along with David, Sean and Ruby. We had to be careful about letting them interact with her at first, until we knew how she would react to their playfulness.
            Nala has been very patient and nurturing to the kids and even jumps up to greet them when they get home from school. All of this good behavior is what made our most recent discovery about her personality such a shock. Apparently she thinks other dogs are the enemy and instinctually goes on the attack at the slightest sight, smell or bark of another dog.
            Unfortunately, we learned this the hard way. Chad and I had been working on the front yard all day, and were sitting on the porch that evening enjoying the view. Some of our new neighbors walked by with their sweet little pup on the sidewalk across the street so we waved and made some pleasant conversation back and forth. Life was beautiful, until . . . Sean decided to bring Nala out on the leash. In a split second, Nala had that poor innocent little dog in her sights and she was GONE!
            Sean started yelling for help as Nala dragged him down the yard by the leash. I was running down after Nala and Sean yelling like a crazy person. The poor man was holding his little white fluffy dog up in the air, while I was tackling Nala down to the ground. It was a BAD scene. We were shocked that this sweet loving dog who had been so great with our family could turn into Kujo so quickly.
            “Well, walks around the park are over!” I vowed. She can’t be trusted! We can't hold to that because we love Nala and going on walks is her favorite thing. When I get home from taking the kids to school she runs to her leash and bumps it with her nose until I agree to take her out. She’s our dog now, she belongs to us, we’ve rescued her, now she must be taught how to walk with us.
            Yesterday I was so upset after Chad called to check in. He had gone to visit one of the ladies in our church who had been sick and unable to attend for a few weeks. During their visit she brought it to his attention that one of the residents has been spreading rumors about just about everybody else in our church. Some of the hurtful things she is saying got back to the people and it’s hurting the fellowship we have in our little community.
            My immediate response was anger. I hate gossip worse than anything! It’s like acid. So hurtful and destructive to the body of Christ! I felt like Nala and wanted to go running down the porch to give this lady a piece of my mind. Thankfully, God put the brakes on.
            Disgusted, I hung up the phone, put my head in my hands and prayed to God. Then moving my hands away from my eyes, I looked down to the pages of my Bible open to 2 Timothy 2:24 which says “The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness.”
            The Lord was tugging at my heart, all He had to do was ask the question, “Aren’t you my slave?” without hesitation I answered, “Yes, I am.” That means I give up the right to quarrel over every wrong done to me and the ones I hold so dearly. I give up the right to go for the jugular in every confrontation. As a matter of fact, I’m to see, as Paul did in this text, the higher purpose and pray for the best possible out come described in the following verses. “ . . . Perhaps God will grant them repentance to know the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will.”
            This morning when Nala asked me to take her for a walk, I agreed. After working with her she is learning to ignore the annoying barks and taunts of the other neighborhood dogs. I gave her lots of praises every time she controlled herself. She is learning that to enjoy the walk with her master means submission to my gentle leading.

            I’m so thankful for a Savior who walks with me and talks with Me. He tells me I am His own. He has promised to continue His work in me and see it through until it is complete. He is also seeing His work through in the lives of those who have upset me. We are all a just a bunch of rescues.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Entrusted With Brokenness

If you saw Chad Thursday you might have noticed a little extra spring in his step. Even though he was tired from a long week working out in the heat, his excitement couldn’t be hidden. After four years of being a man without a dog, soon we will finally be able to have a dog again. On Wednesday night we began the process of adopting through the Rhodesian Ridgeback Rescue.

When I met Chad, he had a dog name Bruno who was a Ridgeback. Bruno cared so much about Chad that he was jealous when I came along. Unfortunately, Bruno passed away right before Chad and I were married and after being married about six months, we decided to adopt another Ridgeback.

Part of our love story was that we both had given up on dating the year before we met each other. I had been studying the book of Ruth and began outlining the character and qualities of Boaz as I prayed for my future husband.

Now, as a young married couple we were searching through the Ridgeback adoption webpage for our first dog. And there was his picture, it was a picture of a handsome slightly older dog who’s name was Boaz. “That’s the one!” I said. How cool and unusual for someone to give a dog the name “Boaz”? He has to be the dog for us!

We went through the process of adoption, brought Boaz home and began noticing some issues he had. He was no puppy and  had an intimidating look about him. Chad would leave for work every morning and that meant I was left alone all day with the steely glares of this hound that thought himself a lion hunter. The scars on his face and back even intensified his glare. 

To make friends, Boaz and I began a routine of taking a walk through the nature park every morning. We would both start strong, but about half way along the trail, Boaz would begin limping and try to run even with the crooked gate in his hind legs. Later, after a visit to the vet, we were informed that he must have suffered an injury of some kind to his hind leg that had not healed properly. The scarred hip caused him a lot of pain even though he was an active dog.

Boaz had a history as most adopted pets do. All Chad and I knew was his previous owner had moved and left him behind, until tonight when we received a phone call from the rescue coordinator.

On our new application it inquired about the dogs we had owned in the past. Chad had listed Boaz and our other Ridgeback, Ruthie on the application. Martha, with Ridgeback Rescue couldn’t wait to call us when she saw that we were the family who had adopted Boaz, because she had been his rescuer!

After introducing herself and asking a few questions, she asked if we wanted to know Boaz’s full history. Chad said, “Wait, my family is here. Let me put you on speakerphone. We all loved Boaz and they’ll want to hear his story too.”

My heart was broken as she shared how Boaz had been hit by a truck and had an infected wound when she found him. She took Boaz in after finding him abandoned by his owners who had tied him up and drove the moving truck away, leaving him there all alone.

By the end of her story, or more accurately, Boaz’s story we were all in tears. Boaz had been such a gift to our family, and now, knowing all  he had been through, I was even more thankful for the time we had him and the love he knew for the later part of his life.

Many times I become overwhelmed by the needs of the children, youth and adults we work with in the ministry. So many of them are easily cast aside by society and labeled unworthy because of the scars they bear. We have been told that the people we are helping will never be able to contribute back to us; so why don't we go find a group of people who have their pieces a little more "together"?  The call to love and compassion must not be seen as a burden to bear, but an honorable duty that has been entrusted to all followers of Jesus Christ. He entrusts us with the brokenness of this world and calls us to love, to be merciful, to pursue redemption just as He has done.

When we are called to love broken individuals, we don’t realize all they have been through. While we may look at the outward signs of abuse, neglect, hunger, poverty and dysfunction Jesus has compassion for the deeper wounds. He has seen the violent blows endured and heard the hate-filled words that bring pain long after the church van has pulled away. In response, the Holy Spirit fills us with a sense of urgency, sends us out and continues to make a way into the darkest places, even when we might otherwise grow weary and turn back.

My rescuer, Jesus, looked on me in my time of greatest need. Seeing how sin was ravaging my life, My Savior did not leave me abandoned, instead Christ demonstrated His great love by dying on the cross. I pray He will continue to entrust me with the broken so that I might love them in His name, and witness the glory of His miraculous redemption.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why I Don't Quit

     I’ve had a spiritual growth spurt lately and I feel like it needs to be documented here since my blog is called, “Gleaning From Life” after all. There have been recent events in our life, that had they happened two years ago or even last year, would have left me feeling down and discouraged. They may have even caused me to give up on the ministry God has called us to. It seems I’ve come to accept these waves of difficulty with a little more perspective and endure with a little more courage.
         Last year I found an old sermon by the late reverend Dr. E.V. Hill titled “Why I Don’t Quit”. (I’m posting part three at the end of this blog.) In this sermon he gives some very compelling reasons why the children of God should not give up on their calling. Every time I need a reminder I just play this sermon in my ear then “get back to my post” as he says.
         I thought I’d take his points and share why they speak courage to my heart. Hopefully, if you’re in need of encouragement today you will be reminded of the reasons why you shouldn’t quit either!


Before I even knew what a “Baptist” was, or what a missionary was, I was just a little girl learning about who Jesus is and about His great love for me. It was in the songs my mother sang, the books she read, the sermons my father preached and the stories my Sunday School teacher taught. It was through this progressive realization that I learned who Jesus was and fell in love with Him.
Soon after my realization of who Jesus was, I became aware of my need for Him. He became my Savior and Lord. As a young adult He called me to follow Him in service and with my whole heart I obeyed. Now He is my ROCK!
There have been times that I thought living out my calling depended on the approval of another person or organization. God has been faithful to teach me that even if I fail or other people fail me, He’ll just pick me back up, dust me off and put me back to work. I started with Jesus and I’ll be satisfied that His work in me is done when we meet face to face.

This morning I was working in our office at the apartment complex signing up campers. Chad and Brother Chris pulled up with a fresh load of produce. When I offered groceries to one of the moms she said, “This is amazing! What made you and your husband decide to do all this?” 

I said, “well, for me it started with a bunch of oranges!” I told her how Chad and I moved from Amarillo into one of the apartments at the back with our children. We knew God wanted us to begin ministering in these apartments even though at the time we weren’t any better off financially than our neighbors. We were offering all we had, which was a Bible Study in our living room on Sunday mornings.

That year, when I finally got my first check from Wal Mart I was so thankful. On my way out from work I stopped and bought a big bag of oranges for David, Sean and Ruby. It had made me so sad that to not have the grocery budget we had in Amarillo, and it felt very good that night to buy fresh fruit for our kids again.

The next morning when the kids in our apartments showed up for Bible study and saw those oranges sitting in a bowl, they asked if they could have some. They were hungry and it was truly an act of faith for me when I started cutting up those oranges to share. Not only did our family continue to have enough, but we are now able to bless every family in that complex with fresh fruit each day!

God has provided so faithfully for our every need and in such miraculous ways. My whole life is a testimony to the goodness of God.  It would be “an act of ingratitude” as Dr. E.V. Hill puts it, for me to give up of following Jesus. I’m committed to carrying on in the ministry with every resource that He puts in our hands, trusting always in His provision.


The crown of life is what I’m running for, nothing else God allows me to achieve in life will compare to hearing my Savior say, “well done!”.  There will be much to endure here on earth and hopefully many times of joyful celebration, but as a follower of Christ I’ll  “ . . . run with perseverance the race marked out for us fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1b-2