The Un-lovely, Loving Me

She came into my workplace today, and her face was lit with a smile, ear to ear. She said, “Don’t go anywhere, I have something for you.” So I talked with her husband and waited for her to come back. Many people I know would shun these people. And I need to make a confession: I used to as well.

These people are the very definition of the Un-Lovely. Very poor, mostly uneducated, sometimes dirty, and the husband is annoying on a good day. And yet they were the ones who talked with me every single week since Mr. Wonderful lost his job. They were the ones who came to see me every week, and said they were praying for us, and our kids. Gradually, over the past several months, God has been working in their hearts and in mine, to bring us to this common ground; somewhere my former self would never have ventured.

“A present for you!” she beamed, “It’s for you and your family.” The package was wrapped beautifully in gold with a green bow, and in a bag with an angel on it. Four candy canes were taped to the package. “Open it at home tonight,” she said, and then gave me the biggest hug.

It reminded me of Pastor Tricia’s sermon on Sunday, where wealthy people of Brazil did not pull away from the embrace of a poor woman who’d been baptized, didn’t cringe at the lice in her hair. They just loved her with Jesus’ love.

And then this woman smiled so brightly, her front teeth missing, and said something I had no idea anyone would ever say about me. She said, “You are my angel. It was almost a year ago when my mom was sick. I told you about it, and you were so concerned. I walked out of your work that day with such a smile on my face. To know you cared… you really cared meant so much to me. I’ll never forget it for as long as I live. You are definitely my angel, Jenny.”

“I was just being nice,” I thought. Except….. except that I remember that day, and the Lord spoke to my heart and asked me to reach out to these people. I obeyed, maybe slightly begrudgingly at first, and then with gusto as time went on. What a blessing these people are to me now, since Mr. Wonderful’s job loss and our move this summer. They see me weekly, and tell me how good it is to see my face, and ask how the kids are doing in school. They pray for me. THEY PRAY FOR MY FAMILY.

They don’t judge me, the way I had judged them for so long. She told me, “I see Jesus’ love in everything you say and do.”

And then I just have to fall on my knees and thank the Lord for showing up and showing off. Because if anyone ever saw the real me, they would NOT say that they see Jesus’  in everything I say and do. I struggle all the time. I am the least patient person I know. I try to be nice, and kind, and generous, and giving and I fail, fail, FAIL FAIL FAIL.

But then I try again, because God asks me to, and because without Him, I have nothing.

I have been whining for weeks about different things. And then yesterday, Mr. Wonderful played a scene from “Facing the Giants”…. it was the part where the guy who prays for the kids in the school, took the Coach aside and said, “You are to bloom right where you’re planted.” That hit me between the eyes. God’s been telling me this for weeks and months, but I did not understand until last night, and now I do.

Now I know I need to make my best effort at LIVING, and blooming right here, in this so-so house, without Mr. Wonderful having a job. God wants me to stop waiting for things to be perfect for me to be happy. Just let the stress and crud go, and let my light shine brightly for Jesus, here and now. Because people are watching. And I know people read this who never make any comments. And if I was ever going to influence anyone in any way, I pray that it’s to show them how deep and wide and good is the Love of God, and that He’s waiting with open arms for you. FOR YOU.

God knows you have been hurting. God knows the troubles you have been through, the wrong things you have done, and the guilt you carry. He sees how you try so hard and yet it doesn’t seem good enough. God sees the triumphs in your life, and he sees the trials, and He loves you through all of them. He just loves you without condition. He doesn’t want anything, except for you to love Him back.

Maybe you’ve never been to church, or you’ve been to church and felt judged. But what God wants you to know is that He doesn’t desire religious orders of service, or fancy clothes or even for you to say exactly the right words in the right order. God just wants to know the honest feelings of your heart. God wants you to know that He loves you. He’s ready to forgive you. God wants to be your friend, and your Savior.

If you want to be a  part of His family, maybe you’d like to pray this as you read:

Dear God,

I’m not a religious person, but I believe in you. I don’t have the answers, but I know You do, so from this point on, I want to rely on you. Please forgive me for the wrong things I’ve done. I surrender my life to you. Help me make Jesus my Lord and Savior. I accept your grace and peace, and I will follow you all the days of my life.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you want to talk (not debate), you can click the link at the top of the page that says “Talk to Me”… or you can inbox me on Facebook.

God’s blessings on you.

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Watershed Moment

June 11, 2013 was a watershed moment* in Mr. Wonderful’s and my life. Mr. Wonderful wrongfully lost his job, and because of that, we are being forced to move out of our home and into, well, something not as great, but very near my work and the kids’ school.

The rivers of tears we’ve cried separately and as a family over this are deep and all-encompassing at times. Leaving our community, our ministry, our church family, and this little life we carved out of this big city is proving to be difficult and gut-wrenching at every turn.  Packing up this house is the least of the issues. What really stinks, what REALLY hurts is the way we were just yanked out of this, without even the opportunity to say goodbye. Our hearts are bleeding inside of our chests at the thought we’re still just a block away from these people we love so dearly, and now they’ve been officially directed not to fraternize with us, as though we  were a self-contained colony of lepers.

At first it seemed very much like we were running back to our hometown with our tails tucked neatly between our legs and cowering. That isn’t the case, though. We have choices in this, and we have so much support from our friends and family that we can’t help but be lifted up out of the muck and mire of these last weeks.

The people of Eastwood are forever in our hearts. We miss each one so much!  They were our whole life, and we miss them so! We would never have chosen this path; we would never have willingly left these people. It’s hard to imagine why this has happened, but we believe God has something better for us, coming hopefully soon!

My goal for this coming week is to get back into praying. I’ve been so angry throughout this whole ordeal, that the only prayers I’ve uttered are ones of desperation, to hold onto sanity for another minute, and to not pass out from sheer exhaustion.

Father God, I don’t understand this, and I don’t like it. I’m sad that we didn’t even get to say goodbye, and worse, that someone is trying purposefully to hurt Carl by spreading lies about him. God, I’m mad because you knew this would happen and you could have stopped it! It didn’t need to go this far, and you could have made it all better, so we didn’t need to go through this agony and uncertainty.

But your Word, Father, says that you will never leave, nor forsake us. Your Word says that You will work all things together for good, for those who love you and are called according to your purpose. Your word says that no weapon formed against us shall prosper.

Psalm 91 sums it up nicely:

Psalm 91

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

God, I don’t understand why this happened, but I’m feeling the familiar tug at my heart to stop looking back, and instead, to delight in you, and look forward to what you have planned for us from here on out. Thank you for loving me, and please forgive my near-constant whining for the past 3 weeks. I know Carl and I are in the refiners fire at the moment, and when you’re done with us, we’ll shine like nothing on this Earth.

Amen.

 

*A critical turning point. It is actually a moment in time where everything changes. A point in time when nothing after will ever be the same as before. To call it a turning point technically is true, but it is an overly simplistic definition of the phrase.

The figurative meaning comes from the literal meaning of a point, or division in a river, or stream where the river is split into two distinct paths that will not intersect again.