Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Blessing Adventure

I found myself on an airplane, facing two very long flights to Europe, but excited at the prospects of a prayer/mission trip ahead of us. Tim and I got settled into our seats, made sure we had all our important documents secured and then began to chit-chat with the team member sitting next to us for the flight. He was one of the pastors on staff at our church so we were enjoying getting to know him and his story as we passed the time. Turns out he's quite a character - he had us in stitches with the crazy stories he told and the caricature-like portraits he painted with his words.

 We careened through several different topics, and then ended up talking about our children and their schools. I began to listen as though huge cotton balls had just been removed from my ears and I couldn't wait to hear the next sentence. This pastor was nonchalantly unfolding the coolest "mission" I had ever heard regarding his kids' teachers. Whenever their kids begin a new school year, they always go meet the teachers, get acquainted and let them know that he is a pastor. Then, he proceeds to explain to  each teacher that their family is totally supportive of her and wants to bless her socks off during the school year. He leaves a "favorites" form for her to fill out - candy, soft drinks, coffee, restaurants, movie theaters, day spas - all the little luxuries and preferences the teacher can think of. Then, during the year, they make an EXTRAVAGANT display of love for the teacher by bringing her things from her "favorites list." Sometimes it's just a big Dr. Pepper from Sonic at the end of the school day. Sometimes it is a gift card to her favorite place to eat. Sometimes it is even bigger than that.

Well, this whole story impressed me, inspired me and stuck with me. It made such an impact on me that I just knew our family had to do it, too. So, at the beginning of the last school year, we did! I printed up some little forms for each teacher my children would have regularly and I marched myself up to their respective schools to turn on the hydrant of blessings. I introduced myself, got to know the teachers a little bit, and then told each one how much we already loved them, that we pray for them and that it is our family's mission to bless them ridiculously during this school year. They looked at me like deer caught in the headlights - excited, hopeful deer, but caught in the headlights, nonetheless!  Apparently, this is a foreign concept.  Do you realize that most of the interaction teachers have with parents is over corrections, complaints or other negative issues?  Parents wear those teachers out!  I gave each teacher their little "favorites" form and told them to send them back with the kids' stuff whenever they were ready.  They gave them back the very same day!!!

You will never believe what an impact this had on those precious ladies! The smallest things - just thoughtfulness - hatched a friendship between us that you never would have dreamed. I was able to lavish love on them and display God's pursuing, extravagant love toward them through gifts. I made it a point to bring them something each week - a favorite Starbucks drink or a favorite candy bar - and once a month, I would bring something bigger from their lists.   Just because of this easy-to-do assignmnet (loving on people), I was able to bring joy and peace to them.  I was able to pray for them - in general, but they would ASK me to pray for specific things going on in their lives, too.

 As the year went on, I watched the Lord work through candy bars, movie tickets, restaurant gift cards and yummy-smelling candles.  It was so much fun!  I think it's time for all of us who know Jesus to take a step further in loving and blessing people.  Even just a small step further.  What are the practical things you're doing to bless and love those around you?  I'd love to hear it!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

15,000 Ways to Inject Light into Darkness

I'm in Guatemala right now with a team of UHHHHmazing women.  These women are the heavy-hitters of the Kingdom.  We're spending time in ministry training and seeing the Lord lift things off of us, deposit new things in us, refresh us and lavish His love on us.  It's truly overwhelming.

BUT, all that to say, I need an outlet!  We had an assignment to present a 5-minute teaching or message to the group today...and I was only able to get out about 25% of what was in my heart to say!  The only instruction beyond the time limit was that it should be something we are passionate about.  So, since I am SO passionate about the Light (Jesus) and since I SO passionately hate the dark (evil), I am compelled to slap this message on ya.  Here you go.

15,000 Ways to Inject Light into Darkness

It is much easier than you think to bring Light into the darkness.  Sometimes we assume that we would have to travel to the wilds of Africa in order to truly light the darkness....but it's just not so.  I have come up with 15,000 - or maybe slightly fewer - ways that anyone can inject Light wherever you are.

  1. Be nice.  Just be NICE, people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Ask people about themselves.
  4. Be a “welcomer.”
  5. Pay for the person’s order behind you in the drive-through.
  6. Randomly show up to a friend’s house with flowers.
  7. Say “I love you” a lot.
  8. Listen to hear what is in a person’s heart, not just what is in their head.
  9. Say “yes” more than you say “no.”
  10. Be quick to forgive.
  11. Mow your neighbor’s yard…just because.
  12. Look people in the eyes and see into their world.
  13. Wear Mickey Mouse ears.
  14. Laugh uncontrollably and develop a guffaw.
  15. Take your smile to the hospital and spread it around.
  16. Laugh at your mistakes.
  17. Embrace people – with your arms, your facial expressions AND your words.
  18. Plug in your neon “open” sign and turn off the “closed” sign.
  19. Dance – even without any audible music.
  20. Be the “gum friend” who always has it and is always offering it to everyone.
  21. Read your situation and choose an appropriate level of response.
  22. Take ownership of your environment - not the trees, but the space you're in.  Be responsible for the well-being of those around you at the moment.
  23. Be teachable.
  24. Get over yourself.
  25. Move forward.
  26. Be available.
  27. Sing your little heart out.
  28. Keep other people’s confidences locked in your vault.
  29. Infuse the atmosphere with hope.
  30. Cultivate your sense of humor.
  31. Hang out with the undesirables.
1, 2, skip a few....

      2,025. Bake cookies often.
      2,026. Share them.

      11,999. Translate the Word of God through your actions.
      12,000. Meet people where they are.
      12,001. Lower your expectations of others.
      12,002.  See the treasure in others.
      12,002. Speak to the treasure in others.  Call them THAT name.

      12,436. Filter your words and just let the good stuff come out.
      12,437.  Refrain.
      12,438.  Partake.

      13,122. Find a younger person to invest in.
      13,123. Find an older person to invest in.
      13,124. Invest in people.

      13,275. Cry with people.

      14,999. Tell people they are not alone.
      15,000. SHOW people they are not alone.

Really, all these things that can inject Light are simply the things that will easily flow out of you when you are led by Holy Spirit.  These are examples of using your influence to change the atmosphere around you.  They are just practical ways to redirect people with beauty.  Spirit-led living is a life of blessing, lifting, caring, sharing, transforming…a life of adventure and joy…a life of messy, laughter-filled FUN!

The things on this list are applicable ways to live out Isaiah 61:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;

That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Here's a whole love-bucket (for you, Elizabeth T.) full of Scripture about LIGHT:

Psalm 18:28 “For You will light my lamp; the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.”

Psalm 27:1  “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 36:9  “For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.”

Psalm 37:6  “He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.”

Psalm 44:3  “For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; But it was Your right hand, Your arm and the light of Your countenance, because You favored them.”

Psalm 56:13  “For You have delivered my soul from death.  Have You not kept my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?”

Psalm 112:4  “Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious and full of compassion, and righteous.”

John 1:1-4  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him and without Him, nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

John 1:6-9 refers to Jesus as the Light – so when you are shining light, you are bringing life, you are bringing Jesus (THE Life, THE Light, THE Word) into the situation.  He is the answer.  He is the one who transforms. He is the one who dispels the darkness.

So, turn on the Light, my friends!  It's not that hard!

Isaiah 60:1-2  “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I'm over at Destiny In Bloom...

Hi friends!  In case you haven't seen it yet, I'm over at Destiny in Bloom this week!  You can catch the latest at:

Happy hunting!