Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Lesson #1 from Wal-Mart

I was at Wal-Mart last night after LifeGroup and I was just irritated.

It had already been a really long day and I hadn't eaten in the last 6 hours! I was getting really testy. The place was packed! All I had was a bag of dog food and a frozen pizza. There were no express lanes open and the self-check out lane was eight people deep. So, I chose a line behind a family.

The family consisted of four. A father, a mother holding a baby and a young teenage son. They were Hispanic and huddled together and took up so much room! The son unloaded the cart and left the cart behind him so I couldn't place my stuff on the converyor belt. It just bugged me. The place was packed and I was holding dog food, (which was one end of the store, so by now was quite heavy) and frozen pizza that was freezing my arm. They didn't have a lot, so I was just aggravated that they wouldn't pass the cart through so the rest of us could have room. And then I saw what they were buying. Diapers and four jars of baby food. That's it!!! Seriously, we need four people to buy diapers and four jars of baby food. My teeth were grinding and I was about to heave a huge sigh. Then the father looked up.

It just stopped me dead in my tracks. In his eyes you could see tired, confusion, pride, and fear. He didn't talk to the checker, he just watched the prices. When the total came up, he pulled out a small wad of bills and peeled off as much as he could, then opened his hand to show coins. He paused. moved them around with his finger. His wife walked over, switched the baby to the other hip and helped him find the right coins. As she was picking them out, he was watching her and the total, and you could see him trying to put it all together. I felt horrible. Here I was angry at the space they were taking up and how inconsiderate I thought they were being, and it was nothing like that. It took me back to when I lived in Costa Rica and I'm sure I had that same look on my face. I didn't understand the money, I had to count out confusing coins and I also had people there to help me. It didn't matter how little they were buying, but the family had to take the trip to Wal-Mart together. The son helps them with translation, the mom helps with the money, and the father is there as the head of the house.

When they left, I felt so guilty for how I felt before. My heart broke. So, now I want to wish that family success in all their lives. And I promise to take a minute and not get aggravated at situations, but try to see the other side. Thank you God, for giving me patience, and helping know when to use it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Power of Prayer

I was driving to church on Sunday morning and a song came on the radio that made me think of prayers.

Ever since coming back to church, this is one area that I am struggling in. Prayer. I'm in awe of how gracefully people can pray at the drop of a hat. They say it so it flows freely and smooth with no interruptions. I love listening to my friends pray for us, over meals, after LifeGroup, before Switch. I love hearing my girls grow in their praying ability and the maturity of their paryer requests. I just haven't gotten it.

It made me think of how wonderful prayers can be. How putting a request or wish to words can move a soul, have a person devote their life to Christ. It made me think, just how powerful can a prayer be?

We all know that Jason Boland is going to get there with a 6-pack and one, Bon Jovi is still living on one, people ask for them, and my friend are wonderful tellers on one. But what about the prayer makes it so powerful?

I thought of many reasons. Saying a prayer out loud is getting it out there. Where it no longer becomes a single thought, it becomes a reality to strive for. Maybe it's because when you pray, you are asking for help. Like admitting you are stuck. Maybe it's just the meaning of the words. Maybe it's the ritual that means so much.

So, these thoughts are in the back of mind all morning. At the end of service, we saw a preview of what's coming next in our series of Elijah. Would you believe it? It's "The Power of Prayer". I just smiled. God heard me. He already knew I would have questions and He has already planned the answer. I am truly a blessed daughter of Christ.

So, it's not the saying of words, its not if you praying in a group or one-on-one, and it doesn't matter what words you use. It's asking something with all that we are. Letting our hearts talk for us. It's the sincerity and His loving answer that makes a prayer so powerful.

(p.s. If you are still curious about the songs I talked to, Jason Boland and the Stragglers "Somewhere Down in Texas" and Bon Jovi "Livin' on a Prayer". But, you already knew that, you smart cookie)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A few weeks ago at church, Anna told a story about a baker. This baker was a tremendously good baker and his shop was filled with wonderful pastries, bagels, cookies, and treats. He loved his job and his shop and spent every waking hour there. However, as the years passed, the man started to become thin and depressed. This illness soon started upsetting his work. After a few horrible months, the shop was closed. The baker was starving himself. He was around goodness all day long, but he didn't share in any of it. He just made it.

She told us this story as a warning for us not to become starving bakers. We are so lucky to volunteer and lead students to become fully devoted followers of Christ, but sometimes we let our relationship with God suffer. We are so busy teaching and leading that we forget to give ourselves lessons. This story really struck a chord in me. I don't want to be a false leader. I want to be absorbed in God's Word and learn His way of life. So, I have been trying to really reach my students and I wanted to let them know that if they needed anything they could come to me.

Well, last night I was starting to see what kind of progress I was making with them. I had one girl, who hasn't really been communicating alot, come up to me with one of her new friends that she brought to church just so she could be in our group. When I told them that we weren't doing small groups, you could see the disappointment on her face. I was quick to tell them that we would next week, but that this week, it's just BIG SWITCH. She perked up and said good, because she's been telling her friend all about it. Her friend smiled really big at me and said she was already planning on coming back.

That night, during the experience, the friend raised her hand and committed her life to Christ. I was so proud of those girls. They are getting the Word of God out to their friends. And they are responding. I gave the friend a hug and walked her up to the front to talk about her decision. It was amazing and I'm so grateful God let me a part of this girl's decision!

So, as scared as I am about being a starving baker, I think my girls are going to continually show me God's love. And I'm not scared to make more and more delicious pastries, just as long as I can share the experience. And God gave me a great group of girls to share it with.