Connecting with Community

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Tea


Whewww....... its been a tough few weeks. I've worked to much and played to little. I missed a dentist appointment and my pedi appointment as well. In my inbox I had the misfortune of finding a little, not so nice “fan” letter and instead of deleting, which is what I usually do, I replied in an attempt to defend my purpose and my passion.

Its kind of hard to defend Mathew 25:31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Ok I've been a little on edge and a bit grumpy. Call me a bear, if you will! But I'm exhausted and emotionally spent. I grieve for our young people and I can't imagine how tough it is to be young in this day and age. I am tired of losing them to drugs and death. I am sick and tired of cancer and everything it brings. My heart hurts for the hungry and those with no place to call home.

To top it off , a couple of weeks ago my little girl started working at our local cancer center. She is like her mom, a servant to others. She was thrilled to make rounds with her doctor, until she heard him tell a patient the treatment was no longer working. It hurt her heart to see defeat face to face. Not something she will soon forget.

Then quietly God whispers as I sit watching people and wonder about their story. I am pleased that my job is to love and add value to all. I smile as I am reminded of my purpose. You see my purpose is not to please people it is to love people all people.

I am running late this morning and ask God to rescue me from my day. Even my simple pleasure, my morning tea, will not be possible today. I am the last one in and I make my way to an empty seat. It isn't but a few minutes when I notice a young lady making her way across the room. In her hand is a large cup of Chick-fil-A unsweet tea. I bow my head in an attempt to keep tears from rolling. Yes its silly that a cup of tea would heal my heart. You just never know what a small gesture will do for another. It just might rescue them from grief. All day I would visit with this Lifechanger and as she spoke my heart would heal just a little more.

Love each other, be kind to each other and Live Intentionally.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Gold

I sit and look across the field before me, completely covered with young people. From where I sit they all look like ants. Tents set up on the top of each hill all filled with laughter and food. Every color of the rainbow represented and each one of them spread across the field from one goal post to the other. All gathered to compete for the gold. Despite the weather it truly is my favorite time of year. It is nothing to sit in the stands for 12 straight hours, all with one purpose in mind and that is the cheering on of athletes. It doesn’t matter that it is too cold, too windy, and too hot all with in those twelve hours. We will gladly endure it all for the sake of our athlete!

My daughter, Christian runs and I’m thrilled to do everything and anything to help her attain the gold. I watch and support her when she succeeds and support her just the same when she doesn’t. I encourage her when she’s down and I tell her she can when she doesn’t think she can. It’s my job as a mother to always be there for her. She expects it.

I see her in line waiting to give it all she can and then I see her look towards the stands. She is looking for her momma. She is looking for assurance. I give her a slight nod and that is all she needs to add just a little more confidence to her already healthy confident demeanor. She runs and she fights for the lead. She has no idea what it is not to give all she has and more for her teammates. I look down on the track and with great pride I yell like a crazy person in support of my baby girl. At this point no one in the stands behind me, around me and within a two mile radius have doubt as to which one belongs to me.

There is another girl on my daughter’s team her name is Karah. Karah's momma Belinda is just one of many mommas on the team that will do whatever it takes to help her attain the gold. Last year Karah struggled with injury. It was enough to rob her of confidence. She battled to no avail because the gold was captured by someone else. She completed her year ready to forget it and eager to start a new one. Today I watched the results of what encouragement and persistence can do for a human. Her desire and dreams combined with encouragement allowed her to continue working towards the gold.

It's time for Karah to run and I stand not able to sit as she steps on the line. She is eager and ready to run the 2mile. I too am eager to watch her on the track. I see as she bows her head for a moment and then almost in the same movement she slowly lifts her head just long enough to glance at her mother. Belinda smiles at her precious girl with the kind of love and support only a mother can give. The gun goes off and she begins her run, at the start Karah is just shy of first. This great athlete would run by 7 times and with every lap she would receive words of praise spoken by her mother. These words spoke hope into this athletes dream. Her dream of capturing the gold is now in reach. Her momma’s words would be enough to allow confidence to creep in.

Her head rose a little higher each time she heard her momma yell. I watch intently at each time her shoe hits the track. I see it, we all see she is fighting for the win. Then finally the clouds move and a chill hits my face. The place which is filled with hundreds, is now silent to me. I watch as she aggressively takes the lead. Her face is filled with new found confidence ready to show the world how it’s done. The young athlete now in second fights to take the lead back but there is no holding back this marvelous product of encouragement.

Her last lap and she cannot contain the words that her mother has filled her with. She decides to leave it all on the track. My heart stops and I am overwhelmed at the power of words. Silently I watch as the encouraged athlete takes the curb. Second place begins to challenge her but it’s just not enough to dissuade this athlete full of hope. She crosses the finish line and tears roll down my face. Excitement within me that words have carried her to the gold once more. You see yesterday this young girl won the mile and perhaps many thought it had taken everything out of her. I would of been happy with seeing her win second but obviously the words that consume her are to powerful to settle. Words matter and the lack of words matter too.

What if? What if we spoke these powerful words of encouragement to all? I can’t help but wonder about the athletes that have no one there to cheer them on. I can’t help but wonder of all those parents that can’t be there to watch their child run. Those that don’t have the luxury of taking off of work. Those without the funds to travel to cheer on their child. What if we cheered in love even for those that "don’t belong"? What if we encouraged those so "unworthy" of our words? Would they too not settle?

Watch a YouTube video called "A Football Game Gives Hope". It is a great example of what happens when hope by words is given to those "unworthy" of kind words.

All is well in my soul. 1 Corinthians 9:24

Windows

My vanity, at times, keeps me from being humble. This week I struggled with keeping my hair, well let's just say, "controlled". Monday I stopped by a salon that is open later than most. I am scheduled to speak at a women's conference this evening. My thought is, a trim would help control the mess I have allowed to consume my head. I have visited this place before and I have never left with the outcome I have desired, so why did I think today would be different? My daughter, Keila has told me never to get my hair done at the same place I buy bananas. Obviously, I'm not a good listener. When the cosmetologist is finished trying to control my hair the left side is 3 inches shorter than the right side. I leave thinking, "well its better than what I came in with". My thought as I leave "well maybe a shower will fix the unevenness". Well guess what, it doesn't!

I have two hours before I go on stage and I am prepared to speak out of Isaiah 61 and Matthew 25:31. I am thankful that the focus will be on Gods heart and not on my hair but for right now the focus is 100% on my hair and the concern I have is on my appearance. I use about 100 bobby pins to fix my hair just so. For the moment I am thankful that I will not have to go through a metal detector. As I drive to the church I take longer than normal at every stop sign, just so I can pull down my visor and make another attempt at fixing my hair. I park at the church and yes one last attempt at fixing my do. Finally, I find myself on stage ready to share Gods heart. I open my mouth and the first thing out of my mouth is my "hair-do mishap". Apparently God seems to offer many opportunities to keep me humble.

So stress isn't something I play with often but in the days to follow it would consume me. I would go back to the same salon to fix my hair (I know what your thinking but time is not something I have extra of) and each time I would leave wearing a more defined mullet. Yes, a mullet and yes I have pictures.

For three days I stressed so much about my appearance that I went to bed with headaches and lost sleep over this mullet hair do. In my mind my need was much greater than anyone I encountered. I had speaking engagements on each of my mullet hair do days. Grateful that my mullet hair do would only last 4 days but they were the longest 4 days of my life. Honestly, my looks took over every other priority that week. My hair is all I could think of. It was an awful feeling and it's something I didn't even notice was consuming me until I went in for my third haircut. My "crisis" totally consumed me. It stressed me in so many ways and I even changed my name to "Joe Dirt".

So now the lesson because there is always a lesson within the chaos. What if I put as much emphasis on helping people in crisis with as much urgency as I dedicated to fixing my hair? Would we win this war on poverty? I sit in the passenger seat looking out my car window but all I see is my reflection. I do not see the world but rather my "Joe Dirt" hair-do. So lets focus on looking out the window rather than on our physical appearance and we might just do away with some of this unwanted vanity. This week I was reminded that vanity has a way of hindering you from seeing what's important. If we don't make it a point to look out the window we wont see the need, we won't see the hurt, and we won't see the hopelessness in the world.

While in Borger this week consumed with my self a friend of mine put things into perspective for me. As a man he couldn't of known that I was battling with my vanity. So I took it as a word directly from God. This man doesn't go through life self consumed. He spends his time looking out the window. When I look at people I want to see them and not just the package they are in. I don't want to ever focus on the car they drive or the house they live in. I want to focus on the person. It doesn't matter how perfect ones life may seem I know perfection is not attainable on this earth. I understand that we all have need in one way or another regardless of how much money we have or may not have.

Windows

I look at windows differently now.
When I was a child I used to look out of the backseat window at the starched houses with the manicured lawns and ornamental fences and think to myself “I wish I could live in a house like that; I wish I could have that person’s life.” The passing silhouettes that sometimes stopped to pose in those shutter-framed windows seemed more like the subjects of a Rockwell painting than real people, with real lives, and real issues. Other people’s lives look great when viewed from a passing car at 50 miles an hour.
I look at windows differently now.
One day my family’s situation was transformed from poverty to plenty and I found myself living in one of “those” houses. Money may change everything, but be wary of the change. In our house: sobriety was transformed into alcoholism, faithfulness was abandoned for infidelity, trust was replaced by betrayal, whispers were magnified into shouts, kindness was turned into rage, sanity was twisted into madness, and a loving family became just some inhabitants who happened to have the same address. I remember looking out of my bedroom window at the passengers in the cars passing by and thinking to myself “I wish I could go somewhere else... anywhere else... like them... with them; I wish I could have that person’s life.”
I look at windows differently now.
Now that I’m grown, I know that sometimes staring out from behind the fa├žades of starched houses with manicured lawns and ornamental fences are shattered people just trying to pick up the pieces of their lives while somewhere a passerby makes a wish.
C. H. Winters