One Rainy Day

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This post was written for the devotional book, “Chicken Soup for the Soul~Random Acts of Kindness”.  There is no publication date as of yet. It is shared here by their permission. I’ll find out if it will be published as soon as a release dated is issued. It is quite different than my usual posts. I hope you enjoy it!

 

I couldn’t help but to feel grateful for my small five foot frame as I moved around inside my minivan fastening the buckles on the car seats of my daughter, Lindsey, and my son, Devon. Sheets of rain fell from the sky on that chilly autumn morning. Only the most necessary of errands could have moved me out of a warm, dry house on such a morning.

As I pulled out of my parking space and approached the parking lot exit, I looked to the left for oncoming traffic. Much to my surprise, a wrinkly skinned, gray haired lady flashed a toothless smile at me. She stood in the pouring rain with no umbrella and no raincoat waiting for the bus. My heart stirred for her. I couldn’t just drive away and do nothing. I reached back into the New_1_DSCF0701center of the van and pulled out my one and only umbrella and ran it over to her. She took the umbrella without a word spoken as raindrops fell from the gray stringy strands of hair along the side of her face.   She stood holding that umbrella as I pulled out and drove away. Even though I was now soaked to the bone and the kids and I were without an umbrella, I was thrilled at the opportunity to do something for someone else. It was such a gratifying feeling, warming my heart on a cold, raw day.

Later that day, after naps, we were in the kitchen. The sugar cookie dough was done setting up in the refrigerator and we were getting the stuff together to roll out some much anticipated pumpkin shaped cookies. Rolling pin, flour, cookie cutters, parchment paper, two excited preschoolers, all ready for action. The last thing needed was decorative sugar. I reached into the cupboard and pulled out the box of colored sugar and handed it to my daughter. The excited smile melted off her face like the last remnants of snow giving way to spring’s warming breeze.

white-kitchen-bakery-cookies[1]“What’s wrong, sweetie?” I asked without a clue.

“There’s only red, green, and pink sugar here, mommy. I want orange for my pumpkins,” she said with a heavy sigh.

“Well, baby, it’ll have to do. There is no way on earth that we’re going back out in the pouring rain with no umbrella to buy colored sugar.”

At that moment, as if there was a stage hand at the ready, behind the curtain waiting to ring a bell on cue to keep a play moving in perfect timing…the doorbell rang. Greatly relieved for the momentary pause as my daughter’s lips puckered as if holding back her tears, I scurried to the door. I opened the door just in time to watch a brown boxy delivery truck pull away. Lying on my welcome mat was a package. I thought it must be something my husband ordered. But as I turned and walked toward the kitchen, my eyes gazed down to see my name written on the label. The return address was my friend and mentor’s, Ella. She was an amazing woman. Genuine. Loving. Godly. Sincere.

I couldn’t imagine what she sent to me or why she sent it. She only lived fifteen minutes away. She loved to send cards of encouragement and I cherished each and every one of them. Funny though, I never received a package from her. The kids clamored to help me open the package. Ripping back tape and pulling out crumpled newspaper with the excitement of Christmas morning, we found a card with my name written on it. I lifted it up and Lindsey squealed with amazement and pure delight!

“Mommy,” she said, “LOOK, it’s colored sugar!”

Sure enough the box was full of sugar in every color of the rainbow! Bottles of orange, brown, green, blue, purple, red, yellow, and pink filled the box along with teeny tiny shaped candies. Little pumpkins, leaves, stars, hearts, clovers, candy canes, Christmas trees, and Easter eggs accompanied the brightly colored sugars. Lindsey beamed. Tears swelled my eyes as I read Ella’s card. She had been to a food trade show in Chicago with her husband who is a food broker. She couldn’t wait to get these to the kids and me to enjoy so she expressed shipped them as soon as they were back in town.

I put the card down and wiped my tears trying to refocus on the cookie making process with the kids. I drew a deep, soothing breathe just as Lindsey exclaimed, “Oh Mommy, look how did Ella know that you needed an umbrella?” There tucked in the side of the box was a brand new umbrella with the name of the food show on it.

The rest of the afternoon I felt my feet barely brush the floor as I moved around the house baking cookies, caring for the children and making dinner. I felt light and breezy. I felt loved and loving.

Later that evening, as we finished up dinner, we broke out the cookies. My husband and two older, school aged boys were quite impressed by the decorative candy pumpkins and colors on their cookies.New_1_DSCF0693

“Where did you get them?” my husband asked.                                                                                         .

“From God and Ella,” I answered with a smile that just wouldn’t leave my face.

 

Love,

DLF

Bathrooms and Bereans

 

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After having four pregnancies and given birth to four beautiful children, I have become familiar with the ladies’ restroom in pretty much every place we have EVER been. It was no surprise when I needed to leave the warmth of the Farmer’s Market one cold October morning not so long ago to trudge across the parking lot to the building that housed the ladies room.

 

When I reached the steps at the door of the restroom I was surprised to find a woman standing there. I curiously asked if she was waiting to use the restroom. She said she was but that the door was locked.

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“Locked?” I asked, confused.

“Locked.” She replied.

“How odd,” I said. “If I remember correctly there are several stalls in there. Is someone cleaning?’

She shrugged her shoulders.

 

We waited…

Funny how the cold air enhanced my need to use the room, behind that door.

We waited…

The line grew behind me.

We waited…

Finally, an elderly woman, apparently familiar with this building, questioned why we were all waiting.

 

I told her what the woman in front of me had said and reached my arm beyond her to try the door in order to prove this woman’s statement.

 

I felt the blood rush to my face as the door flew open to an empty ladies’ room with no less than twenty stalls awaiting! A dozen anxious women rushed in behind me as the woman in front of me stood red faced and embarrassed.

 

I pondered over that situation all day long.

 

How often have I accepted what someone had told me without questioning it?

 

Trust is important, no doubt. Questioning my husband when he tells me that he was at work all day would be a foolish waste of energy. He’s never given me any reason to mistrust him. Questioning a girlfriend when she compliments me on my new hairstyle would be an insult to a dear friend.

 

But, there are times when we need to question things we are told. We need to check it out for ourselves. Test it. Seek proof. Then and only then can we accept it and live by it.

 

The Word of God says this in Acts 17:11: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

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Do you do what the Bereans did? Do you dig into your Bible on Monday morning and examine the words that you received at church the morning before? Do you know the Word well enough to digest current events from a Biblical perspective?

 

There was a time when I did not. I was battling a long standing sin in my life and was desperate to find deliverance and peace. So desperate that when I was told to buy certain audios and videos that addressed this sin and listen to them over and over again, I did.

 

I never questioned whether they were true or not. There was testimony after testimony declaring the effectiveness of these teachings.

 

These teachings led me further and further from Truth.

 

My pastor recently said something of this effect, “a sign of maturity is when we no longer get tossed to and fro by the winds of whatever religious trend is permeating the modern church from one day to the next.”

 

“All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correction, and training in righteousness.”

(2 Timothy 3:16 NIV)

 

Beware of piecing Scripture together to suit a need. I’ve seen many teachers and preachers doing this. I’ve heard many well-meaning friends do this. I’ve done this. We need to consider the Bible in its overarching wholeness when we read each and every individual passage.

 

Redemption through Christ permeates every single page. Every word needs to be read, remembered, and memorized in light of the Gospel.

 

Imagine what could have happened had I never pushed on that ladies’ room door that day. It could have been a disaster of epic proportion. Remember, there were over a dozen of us trusting one woman’s statement as truth.

 

Join me. Be a Berean.

 

Love,

DLF

 

We Need Jesus

There we were sat, I sipping my tea and my daughNew_1_DSCF0690ter and her friend sipping pumpkin spices lattes. The campus shop felt warm and cozy on this cold, rainy October morning. It had been raining all week long. The warmth of the tea filled my mouth and warmed my belly. Delightful.

 

I had my cup poised at my mouth about ready to take a sip when my daughter’s friend quipped, “Look at that guy smoking. He needs Jesus.”

 

My eyes settled on a college student passing by the window where we sat. A twentyish looking man was walking with a back pack on, puffing away on a cigarette. I thought about what my daughter’s friend had said. It wasn’t the first time she had made that particular declaration during her sleep over at our home. This little saying seems to be her first response to anyone behaving badly in any way.

 

I pondered her insight and maturity as the girls chatted about all things teenage girlish.

 

She didn’t respond as I would have.

 

If I had spoken out about that “guy” smoking, it would have sounded more like, “Look at that guy smoking. He should know better. What’s wrong with him?”

 

My response: Judgmental. Critical. Harsh. Unloving.

 

Lindsey’s friend’s response: Truth. Understanding. Caring. Loving.

 

I heard someone once question, “Why are we so shocked when people misbehave?”

 

Sinners sin.

 

The Lord has been really been working this over in my heart. I keep hearing, “Look past what you can see.”

 

We are all created in God’s image. We all have good and bad in us.

 

Oswald Chambers said this in my morning devotion today, “No human being knows human beings as God does.”*

 

Oh, how I pray to see with spiritual eyes, with more clarity than my physical eyes can see.

 

After all, every one of us just “needs Jesus”.

 

Love,

DLF

 

 

*My Upmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers, October 4, The Vision and The Verity

Cancer of the Soul

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I sat in my chair in a small Sunday school classroom looking at a handsome man writing on the chalk board (yes, I said “chalk board”…it was that long ago). The man was my Sunday school teacher, who later became my husband, Jim. The words that he scrawled across the board were, “Comparison is cancer of the soul”.

 

POW!

 

I cannot tell you for the life of me what else he said that day, but that phrase has hung in the rafters of my brain ever since.

 

Cancer is an ugly word. Cancer is an ugly disease. My mom died of cancer. It festered for years and she tried to ignore it. Finally, after gargantuan pressure from her family, she sought treatment. Right in the midst of chemotherapy it snuck up her spinal column and attacked her brain!

 

I’ll spare us both and not disclose more detail. You get the picture.

 

It’s sneaky.

 

It’s destructive.

 

It’s merciless.

 

What cancer is to the body, comparison is to the soul.

 

It ravages our self-worth, steals our confidence, and diverts our focus from a loving God to our “pitiful self”.

 

Or maybe it’s even worse. Maybe, just maybe, it puffs us up with pride, fills us with hauntiness, and makes feel like “god”.

 

How do we protect ourselves in a world that is filled with Facebook fabulous lives, Pinterest perfect homes, and Twitter tantalizing gossip?

 

Honestly, I struggle with this, as I suspect most women do.

 

My only answer is…the more time I spend in HIS WORD the better off I am.

 

Why?

 

First of all, it naturally limits my time with carcinogenic social media that can tear at my soul. Every minute spent reading, studying, and meditating on His Word is a minute not being spent on Facebook.

 

Secondly, it reminds me who I am, who God is, and what is truly important.

 

Third, it refreshes my soul and makes it stronger. I love spending time in Psalms when I feel a little beaten up by life.

 

Unlike physical cancer, the spiritual cancer of comparison has a cure.

 

“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble and He saved them from their distress. He sent forth His Word and healed them; He rescued them from the grave.”

(Psalm 107:19 &20)

 

Love,

DLF