My Friend’s Story By January Lare

My friend posted this, the other day and I thought it was so inspiring I had to share it!

I have had a wicked case of the stomach flu since Thursday afternoon, but that’s not the point, so stick with me here. This is about what this most recent illness has taught me…I’m gonna preach, so here goes.

During the beginning of this sickness, there was a moment where I threw up so violently that I peed my pants. (Keep reading, trusted friends and curious acquaintances. By now you all know how transparent I am!)
My husband, without saying a word, quietly grabbed some cleaning supplies and towels and knelt down to clean up all the disgusting things that just escaped my body. I was mortified and, trembling, I cried, “Get away! Don’t touch any of it! Stay back!” But he just kept leaning in to take care of me, his bride. All I could think was, “How did our marriage become this unsexy, unromantic thing? Surely, he must see me as gross and undesirable now.” But God whispered to me in that moment. “No, Child. He sees you as I do right now. Helpless, weak, vulnerable, and in desperate need of My love. Accept this gift. He is loving you with My love in this moment.”

As we move toward the Easter season and begin reflecting on what Jesus did for us at Calvary, I am reminded of another act of servant leadership that Jesus displayed.

Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. In this culture, people walked everywhere, alongside livestock, and their feet were a source of shame, as they were beyond filthy and disgusting. Feet were to be hidden under long cloaks and covered up, not put on display. But Jesus did not come to be “hip” and “cool” and “politically correct.” He did not care about what society viewed as acceptable behavior. He did not come to entertain us with miracles. He came to show us something new: servant leadership. He took a basin of water and a towel and quietly knelt down at the feet of his closest followers and washed their dirty, muddy, callused feet. I’m sure, like me with my illness, the disciples were all like, “No! Don’t touch me! I’m so gross! If you see how gross I am you won’t want me anymore!” But Jesus served them in this intimate and loving way to show them that IN ORDER TO TRULY LEAD, YOU MUST FIRST BE WILLING TO SERVE.

As a former manager in the business world, and now teacher and mother, my leadership philosophy is and has always been “never ask anyone to do something you are not willing to do yourself.” Think about it. If you are a leader, do you place yourself above others in order to be elevated in status and importance? Would YOU want to serve under your leadership? Would YOU want to be a child in your house or a student in your classroom? How do YOU make people who serve under you FEEL?

But I am challenging myself, and you, Christ following friends, to take this a little bit further by asking every day, “Whose feet can I wash today? Who will you place in front of me today, Lord, that desperately needs Your love in the middle of their ugly? Where will you use this leadership influence THAT YOU’VE ENTRUSTED TO ME (because, let’s face it, if God didn’t allow you to be in this position of leadership, you wouldn’t be there and neither would I) to serve others and not myself today?”

Humble us, Lord. Humble our hearts, humble our nation. Humble our church and community leaders. Humble our president. Humble our husbands and wives and parents to serve each other in love – your love. Amen.

“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:14-17

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin

What’s in your Garden?

What’s in your Garden?

Everything we do, Every word we say, is a seed we plant

What’s In Your Garden?

I hate gardening! Oh, don’t get me wrong; I love the harvest, and I love cooking up, canning, and freezing the harvest from the garden! I am more than happy to spend hours in the kitchen, steaming over a pot of hot boiling water as jars are sterilizing, just so we can get the harvest canned before it goes bad, even if that means hours on my feet to make it happen. Shoot, I don’t even mind getting out and planting the seeds at the beginning of the season (even if it does get dirt under my fingernails) and I have actually been known to go out and water the garden a time or two in my life!

 
But you know what I hate about gardening?? The WEEDS!! They are the worst, especially for an amateur gardener like myself. Sometimes I can’t even tell the weeds from the plants!  To avoid having to spend hours in the hot Kansas sun pulling weeds, I have even been known to wait till it rained, and then gone out in my bare feet with the mud squishing between my toes to pull them up while the roots are loose in the soil from the rain. Weeds are the worst, and there is nothing worse than going away for maybe a week on vacation and coming back home and finding that the weeds have taken over your garden!

 
This got me thinking………….
Gardening is a lot like life, you see. It’s like the words we say, the relationships we build, because with each word we speak, every action we take toward someone, whether they live in the same house as we do or it is a casual meeting in the grocery store, it’s like planting a seed and sometimes, when our brains seem to take a vacation from our mouths, it can cause a lot of weeds to grow in our relationship gardens.

 
See…..
We have the power to CAUSE peace in the storms of lives around us, or, we have the power to BE the storm of life in our families and in every relationship we come across. Because everything we do, every word we say is a seed we plant.

 

 Everything We Do, Every Word We Say Is A Seed We Plant!

 
If those words are bitter, then a bitter plant will grow up, like a weed growing in that relationship.

 
Sometimes those words can grow almost instantly! Maybe it’s the sharp words we said to our husband when we were surprised by something he said that caused the spirit of fear to rise up in us simply because he presented an idea that wasn’t in our plan.

 
And other times, it takes a while for those bitter words to grow; like when we repeatedly are short in our response to the child that we have such a hard time relating to. Over time, their constant questions just get on our nerves. When ignored and not dealt with, any of these seeds can grow into weeds and soon take over all the good fruit that is in the garden.

 
But, in the same way, when kind words are spoken and kind actions taken, good things grow in our relationship gardens. The question is; what are you growing in your garden today?
Have you ever noticed how a weed seems to grow twice as fast as the good stuff in the garden? I have a neighbor who lives across the street from me who I have told, more than once; they make the rest of us look bad because they are out in their garden and yard almost daily, weeding it, mowing it, and whatever else you can do to a garden and yard! It never fails; when I look out my front door, one of them (if not both) is on their knees, maintaining what they have.

 
We have to realize that every day is an opportunity for us to make a difference in someone’s life. It is our chance to speak life into someone, especially those closest to us. It might be those who God has called us to do life with and who live under the same roof with us, or maybe it is the people under whose roof we grew up. But God has called us to speak life into those around us and I believe He expects us to not allow any bitter seeds to come out of our mouths. If we are truly followers of Christ, we will love those who live in our own homes. How can the world outside believe that we love them when we don’t even live out that love in our own homes?

 

I want to challenge you today to consider what seeds you are planting in the lives around you. Maybe you have a long history of planting bitter seeds into your relationships, and the weeds have kinda taken over your relationship garden. I want to encourage you to get on your knees and start maintaining your garden with prayer. You need to ask God to let the water of life that flows from Him to come and rain down on your relationship gardens till the soil is so wet, the mud squishes between your toes! Because, I am here to tell you that the rain God wants to pour down on your relationship gardens can restore everything the weeds have tried to come in and destroy.

 
Let’s Pray!
God I thank You that You are the great gardener, and You have a perfect plan for my life. God I just ask today, that You would allow the living water that lives inside of You, to pour down on my relationship garden, restore what the weeds have overtaken and help me to never speak those words of bitterness or anger again in my life. Please help me to see that my self-centeredness and need for control are characteristics that are NOT like You!
Lord, let Your living water flow through my life, so that everywhere I go I bring life, and my life is always pointed toward You.
In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

So What Are You Doing Today?

Recently, I was having a conversation with my daughter and it hit me . . . I said “You know, your dad and I probably only have about 25-30 years left on this earth . . .”
Wow! What a reality check! 3/4 of my life is over, and what have I done with it? What will I do with what is left? Have I made a difference?

The idea of dying doesn’t bother me. I feel confident in where I am going. In fact, being where I plan on going (Heaven) is the easy part and, frankly, something I look forward to a lot. It’s like when you plan an amazing vacation and you are just days away from leaving.
What worries me is the thought of the dying process: being bed ridden, memory loss, unable to take care of myself, etc.  Yeah. That, and what it will do to those around me, is what bothers me.
Now, I can choose to focus on that – which don’t get me wrong, I AM trying to live a healthier life style (probably 40 years too late, but anyway, I am trying, right?) so that I won’t encounter some of those things – but let’s face it: death is inevitable unless the Lord comes back first.

See, I have worked in the healthcare field for the elderly and in all my experience I have never seen one person, as they got older, get healthier, younger, or more active as they aged. No! That just doesn’t happen. God’s word even tells us, “It is appointed unto man once to die and after that, the judgment.” God also reminds us that, “To everything there is a season . . .”

So I want to live well! I want to live like I am dying! See, if we were given notice from the doctor that we were going to die in 30 days – 6 months – or even a year, how would we live our lives?  What would we do differently?  Would we be nicer to people? Would we be more concerned with pleasure – and maybe go to Disney World? Or, would we get the perspective we need and follow after the real purpose of what God has called us to do?

He told us to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” Now, does that mean we all need to run to the seminary and get a degree? NO! What that means is; we need to testify about God’s love every day to those around us. We need to let them know He first and foremost wants to be our best friend and He wants us to share the relationship we have with Him with others.
I can just imagine . . . if I was given my dream vacation for free and was allowed to take as many of my friends and family members as I could with me . . . who would I choose?  See, this is kind of like planning our trip to heaven: who do we want to go with us? We need to be sharing our lives with these people. Because, there is something else I have realized: the only thing in this life you can take with you to heaven is not money, fame, or gold; it is the people around us that we love and want to share His love with.

So what are you doing today? Who is on your invitation list? Who will you be giving that special invitation to today?  Because, one thing is for certain: this life isn’t heaven, but we can be sure we are going there if we give our life to Him. So, who is coming with me???
Let’s Pray:
Lord you know the life I have lived. You know that my ways have not always been your ways. God I ask you now to come into my heart. Forgive me of my sins. Help me be a new creature in you. In Jesus name I pray. Amen!

If you prayed that prayer then you are signed up for heaven and God is looking forward to growing His relationship with you. Get into a Bible-believing church where you can learn more and grow in Him.

Maybe you already have your ticket for heaven but you realize by reading this that you need to share with others about the reservation you have made. Know that I will be praying for you and I am here for you in the comment section if you need any advice or encouragement.

God has great things planned for those that believe! So, even if you and I never meet here on this earth, I’ll see ya in heaven! Be sure to stop in at my place and say, “Hi!” I’ll be the one with the fixer-upper mansion and an unlimited budget, since God knows how much I like to decorate, and an unlimited budget would be heaven to me! (LOL!!:-) Oh, and if you get there before me, tell my family members who have gone on before me I said, “Hi, see ya soon!”

 

Until then,
Alesa

You call me Friend !

Amy & Chad

Amy & Chad

We have all done it: admired and looked up to a leader or person from afar; created pedestals for them, and somehow now believe they are better than us. We think we would never be able to speak to them or be their friend; that they are beyond the reach of what we could be. They are too pretty, too smart, too gifted, too anointed, too rich, or too skinny. They are far more than we think we could ever hope to be. They are the people who appear to have their stuff together and make those of us, who feel we don’t, even more conscious that we could be doing better. Not in a condemning kind of way, but a way that inspires us to do more, be more, do our best.
Then it happens. You get the e-mail or the phone call, and they call you, “friend!” I remember when this happened to me. There was a particular ministry leader who I could not imagine would ever have anything to do with me, I just wasn’t that good. Then one day I got an e-mail from her that said, “Hey Friend!” Friend? She called me, Friend?? What??? No way!!! I can’t be her friend, I am not that good. I could never be good enough to be her friend! After having a small meltdown and a little panic attack, it hit me why I was freaking out.
It was because I looked up to her relationship with Christ; I admired her spiritual leadership; and, as long as I looked on from afar, I wasn’t on her level. But as soon as I became her friend I was no longer looking up to her, but I was her peer! I would suddenly (at least in my mind) need to be on the same level as her spiritually!  Or, worse yet, is it possible she saw something in me that I had not seen in myself that she felt she wanted to be a part of? Could it be possible I could be a blessing to her?? I don’t know about you, but I am always amazed that God would choose to use me, that He sees something worthy enough in me to allow me to be a blessing to someone else, because I know I am just not that good and it is only in Him that I can do anything.
You know, in the Bible it says that Jesus calls us “friend.” (See John 15:15). In fact we were created because God wanted someone who could choose to be His friend. Not because we had to, but because we chose too.  The Bible says the very rocks will cry out and praise Him, if He commands them!  But God gave us a choice, a choice to choose to choose Him, and I don’t know about you but I am amazed that Jesus chose me to be His friend! (See James 2:23).
The unique thing about my perspective of not being good enough for my “friends,” is the truth is that there is someone out there who feels that way about you and me. They feel privileged and a little better about themselves when we reach out to them with a smile, or a quick lunch, a listening ear, or when we call them “friend!” The truth is, we all have influence on someone; and the question is, are we using it for the Lord?
There is a song that goes something like this: “I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God, He calls me friend! Who am I that You are mindful of me, that You hear me when I call . . . ”
I love this song because it reminds me how much God loves me and cares for me. And that makes me want to share this love with someone else. I don’t think I will ever (and I hope I will never ever) get over the amazement that God loves me and will use me, if I will just allow Him to do so. The question is, “Who does God want you to bless today with your time and attention?”  Sometimes all we need is someone to call us friend!