Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No Tricks, Just Treats

I can remember going Trick or Treating when I was a kid with my sister, Robbie.  Even though we grew up in a Christian home, my parents never said anything about us going out for Halloween because, to us kids, it was all about getting free candy.  We would rush through supper, shoving our food into our mouths and washing it down with ice tea so we could get our costumes on and hit the streets.  We’d always pray it wasn’t cold because then Mom would make us wear a coat over our costumes.  We wanted everyone to see how we were dressed. After about an hour or so we’d start to sweat under our masks and yank them off.  

We never worried about going out alone back then.  Maybe the times were different, but we went to as many houses as we possibly could and even left our own neighborhood sometimes.  Every time someone would drop a piece of candy into our bag we’d stick our heads in to see what we got.  Sometimes it was a full size candy bar and sometimes it was only a penny or a small sucker,  but we’d always press on to the next house hoping to hit the jack pot somewhere along the line.  I’m not sure what we were hoping for, but it was just exciting to see what we’d end up with at the end of the night. 
We’d return home with our brown paper bags filled to the brim with candy and we would immediately pour it out on the floor in our room to sort out the good stuff from the bad stuff.  Then we would swap candy with each other, offering up a handful of hard candy for a Hershey Bar with nuts.  The trading would get pretty ugly sometimes, but it was all in good fun. 

I remember one Halloween night, Robbie and I had been out Trick or Treating for quite a while and decided it was time to head home.  When we got there Robbie immediately started to whimper and then she let out a loud cry. 

“What in the world is wrong with you?” I asked.

“My candy is all gone,” said Robbie through tears.  “There’s a big hole in the bottom of my bag.”

It was true.  All that Trick or Treating and she had no candy left.  Apparently her bag got too heavy from all that candy and she started dragging the bag along the street until the bottom ripped open, leaving a trail of candy behind her.  Somewhere in our neighborhood there were some happy kids.  Her loss was their gain.  

I just shrugged my shoulders and went into my room to sort through my bag of candy.  It was terrible what had happened to Robbie, but I didn’t really see how that impacted me in any way.  I could hear Robbie still crying in the living room while I was separating my Bit O’ Honey from my bubblegum.  Suddenly it happened.  My dad opened the door and gave me the bad news. 

“You’re going to have to share your candy with your sister because she lost all of hers,” he announced.  

Robbie sat down on the floor in front of me, choking back tears.  I didn’t look up at my dad.  I just stared at Robbie.  I wanted to grab her around the neck and strangle her for losing all of her candy.  One night a year we got to go out and collect free candy and she had to go and lose hers.  Now I was being forced to share my precious collection. 

“Fine,” I said in a low voice.  

When Dad shut the door and left us to our sharing I made it clear to Robbie that I was going to be the one who decided what she would receive from the bag of candy.  She knew she was in trouble.  I handed her a sucker and a couple of pieces of bubblegum.  Her bottom lip started to tremble.  

“Okay, okay,” I said, not wanting her to cry again.  

I didn’t want Dad to come in and divide up the candy.  He didn’t know the good stuff from the bad stuff so I was sure to end up with the raw end of that deal.  I handed her a little bag of candy corn, but that wasn’t good enough either.  The next thing I knew, we were rolling around on the floor, biting, screaming, pulling hair and otherwise killing each other.  Of course, this brought Dad right back into the room.  He reached down and put all of the candy back in the bag and announced he would divide the candy into two bags for us.  I just shook my head.  Robbie smiled and followed Dad out of the room because she knew it was too dangerous to be left alone with her older sister at a time like that.  I collapsed on my bed feeling like there was no justice in the world.  

As time marched on there were many more incidents that forced me to share my goods with Robbie.  Once she was stung by a bee and threw her strawberry Slurpee up in the air.  Naturally, I had to share mine.  Another time I was forced to let Robbie wear my new plastic bracelet I had just purchased from the gumball machine because nothing came out when Robbie put in her money.  Needless to say, I was forced to learn about sharing at an early age.  

God is also very interested in sharing.  In Isaiah 58:7 it says, “What I’m interested in seeing you do is: sharing your food with the hungry, inviting the homeless poor into your homes, putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, being available to your own families.  Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once.  Your righteousness will pave your way.  The God of glory will secure your passage.”  

It’s so easy for us to get comfortable with our Christianity, believing God saved us just so we could be comfy cozy in our own salvation.  Yet there is so much more to being a Christian than waiting at the bus stop for the heaven bound bus to pick us up and carry us away.  God asks us to share what we have with others.  He wants us to share our time, our resources and our love.  

God has deposited so much into our lives, but instead of sharing what we have with others, often we’ve got our head stuck in our own bags, trying to see what great goodies God has given us.  When we do share, sometimes we keep the good stuff for ourselves and hand over only what we no longer have a need to keep.  I once heard a story about a person who used to send used tea bags to missionaries overseas.  I can just see them straining as much tea as they could possibly get out of the tiny little tea bag and then tucking it away in an envelope, feeling so good about themselves.  

God asks us to give out of the best of what we have, not our leftovers or what we wouldn’t even want for ourselves.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at Matthew 5:40.  “If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, gift wrap your best coat and make a present of it.”  Yeah, your heard it right.  He wants it gift wrapped baby.  

When we lift our bag up to God and ask him to make a deposit, He always gives us His best.  We need to dip down into our filled bag and pull out the good stuff when we’re sharing, without bargaining or expecting something in return.  Make sure you’re only handing out treats, no tricks.       

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I will be speaking at the Bayside Baptist Church Retreat on November 6th & 7th, 2009 at the Eastover Retreat Center in Spring Grove, VA. The event starts with lunch at 12 pm on Friday, Nov. 6th and ends after lunch on Saturday, Nov. 7th, 2009. I will be speaking on "God Wants Your Ordinary Life" on Friday and on "Enjoy the Joy" on Saturday. This event is open to all women. I understand there are a few tickets left. So if you are interested, please contact Joann Kent at 757-460-2481 for more information and tickets. The price is $65.00 which includes accommodations and meals. The Eastover Retreat Center is in a beautiful, tranquil location in Spring Grove, VA. It should be lots of fun and a great time of rest and relaxation. So come and get refreshed and have a laugh or two.

Friday, October 16, 2009

That Sinking Feeling

My sister, Robbie works part-time for a contracting company in the marketing area. She was enjoying working at home for a spell, but a new assignment required her to return to working in the office again. When she showed up for the first day in her new office there were all the routine things she had to go through like getting new office supplies, having her computer set up, being trained on the new phone system and, of course, that all important office chair. 

Robbie has a bad back that can render her helpless without a moment’s notice at times. So having a really good office chair with lots of support for her back is very important to her. The chair she started with seemed to be perfectly suited for her needs and, after giving it the once over, she decided it was a keeper. 

The next day she showed up at the office for her first full day of actual work. As she sat in front of her computer she suddenly got a kind of “sinking feeling.” At first it wasn’t so noticeable, but as the day wore on she began to notice her keyboards were gradually getting higher and higher and her chair was sinking lower and lower. She turned her chair upside down, examined it thoroughly, but could find nothing wrong with it. She turned the chair upright again, sat down in it, pumped the lever that aligns the height of the chair until she again was sitting in a comfortable position for typing on her keyboard. 

About an hour passed, and Robbie, once again, started to experience that sinking feeling. Her keyboards were getting closer to her chin and she found herself looking up at her monitor instead of straight at it. Her chair had sunk again. Robbie decided she needed to call in professional help and asked the secretary to come into her office and examine the chair. The secretary turned the chair upside down, blew away some dust from the mechanical workings there and turned the chair right side up again. She pumped the chair back up as far as it would go.

“Try it now,” she announced as though she had performed some kind of miracle cure by blowing on it. 

Robbie sat down again, waited for a minute or so, and decided the chair was magically repaired. The secretary wiped her hands clean and continued back to her desk with a sense of pure satisfaction written across her face. I’m sure she was asking herself, what would they do without me around here?

About an hour later, Robbie began to notice she had again sank back down to the lowest level in her chair. Frustrated, she picked up the phone and requested another one. Soon a man came wheeling in another chair for Robbie and quickly whisked away the broken chair. Robbie sat down in the newer chair, rocking back and forth, pumping the lever to get it just in the right position. Finally, she sighed a sound of relief and started working again. However, in a few minutes the newer chair started to sink, little by little, smoothly sinking down below a comfortable level. Robbie found herself sitting in front of her desk with her hands up almost even with her chin as she tried to continue typing on her keyboard. 

Robbie could not believe this chair was malfunctioning as well. She was starting to get a real complex about her weight. Perhaps she shouldn’t have eaten the two cinnamon raisin biscuits for breakfast that morning. 

Robbie worked on the chair for a while, pumping it up, sitting in it and then sinking back down, over and over again. This chair was more like a carnival ride than an office chair. She once again picked up the phone and called for another chair. Later that day another chair was delivered from the warehouse. The same man who had delivered the other newer chair looked her up and down as if he was trying to figure out what the problem could be. After all, this would be her third chair. Robbie pretended not to notice and thanked the man for responding so quickly. He wheeled the old chair out of the office, looking back over his shoulder at Robbie and shaking his head. 

Robbie carefully sat down in the newest chair and waited to see if the chair would sink at all. It seemed to be perfect. After some adjustment she began to relax and get back into her work, but by now it was quitting time. Robbie decided to leave for home and test her newest chair the next day. 

The next morning Robbie arrived at the office bright and early, carrying her briefcase and coffee. She was humming a tune she had heard on the radio on the way into work. This is going to be a good day, Robbie thought to herself. She placed her coffee on her desk, turned on her computer and flopped down in her newest chair. As she went to sit down she misjudged the distance to the bottom of the chair and nearly fell over backwards. The chair had sunk over night to an all time low. 

“How can this be?” Robbie asked out loud to no one in particular. “Why am I the only one who can’t sit in a chair without sinking through the floor?” 

She just stood and stared at the chair for a moment with her hands on her hips. Of course, you never win a staring contest with a chair. Robbie grabbed the phone and called her boss. 

“Good morning,” said the boss. 

“Good morning? How can you say good morning?” Robbie asked. 

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Is this not a good morning for you?” 

“No, it’s not,” Robbie replied. “I have been through three office chairs and none of them seem to work. They’re all worthless. They just sink to the ground every time I sit down. I’ve tried everything. Now this last one seemed fine, but it sank overnight. This morning I nearly killed myself just trying to sit down at my desk. Something has to be done! I can’t work like this! Is this a chair conspiracy? Is someone playing a joke on me?” 

There was silence on the other end. Perhaps her boss was thinking of the right words to say without being too offensive.

“I’ll order you a brand new chair,” said the boss. “I’ll tell the warehouseman to get rid of all those chairs that we have on hand. Apparently, they are all malfunctioning. Don’t worry. You’ll have a new chair soon.”

“Oh, well, thank you very much,” said Robbie with a grateful tone. “I appreciate that. Sorry to yell at you first thing in the morning. I’m usually very calm and quiet in the morning, but this chair thing is making me crazy!” 

“Don’t worry, we’ll take care of it right away,” said her boss. “Now is there anything else you might be needing before I go to my meeting?” 

“Um, no, no, that’s all,” replied Robbie. “Enjoy your meeting. Goodbye.”

Robbie carefully sat down in her chair and peered over her desk to see her computer. Everyone else seemed to be working along and having a normal day. Robbie grabbed her pen and scribbled on her calendar for the next day, “Buy fruit. Throw out donuts.” 

Robbie eventually got her new chair and life returned to normal. Although she did find herself checking now again, anticipating that sinking feeling, it never came. Her new chair seemed to be in good working order and supported her in every way. Now she could focus on the job at hand instead of constantly stopping to readjust her position. 

Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling? Things look bleak and you’ve run out of hope and faith. You can’t see your way ahead and your heart sinks every morning as you get up to face the day ahead. No matter how hard you try to pump yourself up you still find yourself sinking to an all time low at the end of the day. You’re not the only person to experience this feeling and survive it. 

“at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root, I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever—Yet you pulled me up from the grave alive, O God, my God! When my life was slipping away, I remembered God, And my prayer got through to you, made it all the way to your Holy Temple.” Jonah 2:6-7 (The Message)

Jonah had been swallowed up by a great fish because he was disobedient to God, yet God still heard his prayer, spoke to the fish and it “vomited up Jonah on the seashore.” Sounds messy doesn’t it? The point is no matter how low we sink and no matter whether it’s because we’ve been disobedient or just because life has dealt us a swift blow, we can still cry out to God and our prayer will get through. Sometimes we reserve God as a last resort, but God loves us unconditionally and wants the very best for us. He wants us to call out to Him as our first plan of action. 

You can never sink so low that God can’t reach you. So the next time you feel that sinking feeling just cry out to God right from the beginning. There’s no need to sink any further. Your hope is in Him and He will always be there, reaching out His hand to pull you up and put your feet back on higher ground. He will make you the head and not the tail. He’s the boss. Align your position to a “vertical focus,” sink your faith in Him at all times and you can’t go wrong. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"Proposal Moment"

I just watched the movie "Proposal" starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds last night on DVD. Hilarious movie by the way if you haven't seen it. Be sure to check it out. I love the scene where, out of the blue she just starts to share some personal things about herself to Ryan Reynolds that she had never shared with anyone else. That got me thinking about doing something similar. So here's my "Proposal Moment."

1. My first concert was "Grand Funk Railroad."

2. On my first date we went to a skating rink. I didn't know how to skate and fell a few hundred times. The boy's name was Barry. He was gracious and kind. Hope I didn't embarrass him too much.

3. I have a bug phobia. Bugs send me screaming out of the room. I once locked myself out of the house because of a centipede. I hit him with a broom. He fell to the floor. I figured with a hundred legs he could run pretty fast. I screamed and ran out of the house slamming the door shut behind me. I had to sit on the front porch for someone to come home and let me in.  The centipede stayed inside, sat on the couch and watched TV.

4. My favorite movie is "Rear Window." I love all the action going on outside in the different apartments while love is brewing inside Jimmy Stewart's own apartment without him even noticing.

5. I was banned from the cafeteria in 6th grade for being too loud. I put a pickle on a girlfriend's milk carton when she wasn't looking and it fell inside. She drank the milk and I screamed with laughter. Apparently I screamed really loud because I was banned for the remainder of the year. I had to eat in the classroom all alone. But the memory of the pickle in the milk carton was well worth it. The girlfriend survived by the way. She was clueless.

6. I always wanted to be a lead singer in a rock band. I used to practice by putting broomsticks through a folding chair so it would stand up and taping a hairbrush to it to use as a microphone. I would then sing with my entire record collection and do all of the rock poses. I was pretty good some would say. But getting a proper job and making a salary prevailed once I graduated high school. I still sing in front of the mirror sometimes without the hairbrush makeshift microphone. However, the rock poses are not near as cute as they once were. Thus, I became a writer.

7. I've always secretly wanted to learn to surf. For a while I would even go into surf shops and look at all the surf gear. However, I barely know how to swim. I never acted on the surfing lessons. I still love to sit on the beach and watch all the cool surfers out in the water. I do carry a boogie board to the beach now and again, but I usually fall asleep under the umbrella using the board as a comfortable place for my feet.

8. I hate carrots. I can eat them if they are shredded in a salad, but that's about it. I really hate them whole and raw. I do however love carrot cake and carrot souffle'. That's probably why I wear glasses. That's a big price to pay just because I don't like carrots. It must work though. I've never seen a rabbit wearing glasses, at least not outside of a children's book. Come to think of it, I've never seen a rabbit eating a carrot either. Perhaps the whole carrot thing is a myth in which case I'm glad I hate carrots, just in case they're wrong about them.

9. I still get very excited about going to Disney World. I love everything about it. It's like being in a different world altogether, hence the name, Disney World I guess. I suspect I will never grow too old to go there. I may have to rent one of those segway riders to get around later, but I will do what I must. I hope they never get rid of the Carousel of Progress. I will be crushed. I definitely am completely, and thoroughly entertained in Disney World. Perhaps it's the kid inside of me. I have a really big kid inside of me. I love video games, board games, Disney movies, and ice cream. Yep, definitely a big kid.

10. I'm terrified of chit chat. Standing in a room filled with people while balancing a small plate of munchies and trying to make interesting conversation can send me over the top. But I have improved somewhat over the years. I make a real effort, but alas, I'm sure the other person can see the terrified look on my face. I'm the kind of person who likes a close friendship where we're in and out of each other's homes and in each other's lives like the Seinfeld group. But chit chat is a skill I find hard to learn. With a really close friend you can sit and not say a word, but you don't feel pressured to talk. I really suck at chit chat. I find myself going on and on and on because I'm so desperate to learn to be a brilliant chit chatter. I see others do it so easily. It must be a gift. I intend to get better as time goes by. But I will never have the gift of gab.

Thanks for letting me share my "Proposal Moment" with you. If you'd like to share yours, feel free.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Knock, Knock, Who's There?

Most normal people are able to stay in hotels without any problems whatsoever, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with my family. For some reason, wherever we go, we never lack at least one embarrassing event. Don’t go thinking we’re crazy or anything. We just seem to be tested more than others. I’m sure we’ll be better for it in the long run. 

Sometime back, there was a week-long revival meeting with a speaker we really wanted to hear. The meeting was to be held almost twenty-five miles from where we lived. Rather than drive back and forth every night for the week, we decided to check into a hotel closer by. Besides being more convenient, it would make us feel like we were away from home and add more excitement to the whole event. 

Now when it comes to packing, Robbie Lee is at her peak of expertise. This woman writes out lists of things to bring before she even begins topack. She coordinates colors and only packs the needed number of outfits for each day. You know the type, “I’ll wear this on Monday and this pretty little outfit on Tuesday, etc.” When you walk in her room, she has each outfit laid out with a pair of socks, underwear, and any needed accessories.As she places each item in her suitcase, she checks it off her handy list, humming as she goes along. I can’t watch for very long before I become very nauseous. 

I, on the other hand, can never decide what to bring. I stand in my closet for hours just trying to decide if I even like an item well enough to take it on a trip with me, trying to envision myself wearing each piece of clothing. My biggest hang-up is I’m afraid I’ll get away from home and hate everything I brought to wear. So I bring what I like to call “just-in-case” clothes. I usually need more than one suitcase when I’m finished, but it’s worth the trouble. 

Mom is the worst of the lot. It doesn’t take her any time to pack because she just goes intoher closet and pulls out everything she owns. She does this whether she’s going away for a week or only one night. Not onlydoes she bring everything, but she leaves it all on hangers instead of putting them in her suitcase. Her suitcase is reserved for underwear and a wide variety of plastic bags that hold makeup, medicine, facial creams, and Lord knows what else. Mom actually doesn’t understand the concept of a suitcase. She insists on putting everything in a plastic bag before it’s packed. This is so she can drive us crazy late at night in the room while she rummages through each one, making lots of noise. 

When we finally arrived at the hotel, the check-in process went just fine. We were told that our room was ready, and the desk clerk carefully gave us instructions on how to get to it. Of course, none of us paid any attention. We all stared at the woman, shaking our heads while saying, “Uh-huh. Uh-huh.”But when everything was said and done, not one of us could remember what she said. We each remembered bits and pieces of her instructions, so we figured we’d manage. 

Our room was located in another building. We piled back into the car and while we all talked at once, we drove like mad women all over the parking lot until we finally arrived at the right spot. Of course, getting the clothes out of the car is always a disaster. Mom is a small, petite woman, and she’s not able to handle very much weight. So she usually ends up carrying one small bag, and Robbie Lee and I get stuck with the entire contents of her closet. I don’t like to make two trips, so I insisted that we carry everything up at once. 

Loaded down with hanging clothes, suitcases, and the many spare shoes, we started out to find our room. Robbie Lee and Mom remembered the room number, and they had the key. 

“The room number is 328,” Robbie Lee yelled back at me. 

“Wait, why are you going that way?” I asked. 

“Because this is the way the woman said to go,”replied Robbie Lee. “Weren’t you listening?” 

“Yes, but I think I’m going to take the stairs instead of walking the length of the hallway to find an elevator. It’ll be shorter.” 

“Suit yourself, but I think you’re making a big mistake.” 

“You take Mom with you. I’ll meet ya’ll there.” 

So we separated. I headed up the stairs, barely able to walk with the load I’m carrying. I watched as Robbie Lee struggled with her baggage, walking behind Mom who looked like she was the queen of the hotel carrying her one small bag. Before long, I was exhausted, and I didn’t think I could take another step. The stairs nearly killed me. I called Mom names under my breath with every painful step I took. Finally I saw the room number,328. The door was already half open. 

“Oh, good, they’re already in there.” I thought. 

With one swift kick, I flung open the door and ran to the first bed I saw, throwing down everything I had in my arms. 

“Whew! I made it. I didn’t think I was going to be able to take another step.”

As I looked up, there sat an elderly man with white hair in his bathrobe. He was sitting in the corner of the room with the television remote control in his hand. His eyes were as wide as saucers, and he looked like he had just seen a ghost. He pointed the remote at me as if to say, “Take one more step, baby, and I’ll mute you.” 

“I’m so sorry,”I said, picking up my suitcases and hanging clothes. “I must have the wrong room. I’m leaving right away.” 

As I struggled with the bags and the door, I knew the old man must have been thinking I would never leave his room. He never moved from his chair and kept the remote control on me the whole time. When I finally fell outside into the hallway, I just burst out laughing until I started to cry. I couldn’t help but see the expression on that man’s face over and over again in my mind. I’m sure he was calling the front desk complaining about this crazy woman who barged into his room and was now having some kind of fit outside his door. 

I finally managed to drag myself down the hall until I saw Robbie Lee and Mom standing outside our door. 

“Where have you been? We were getting worried,” said Robbie Lee. 

“You gave me the wrong room number. I’ve just been down the hall terrorizing an elderly gentleman.” 

“Yeah, I know. I knocked on the wrong door too. A man answered the door wearing a towel. He must’ve just gotten out of the shower. I apologized and left. We finally discovered the right room number scribbled on a piece of paper the woman had given us.” 

“Hurry up and put the bags down so we can go eat,”added Mom in her helpful manner. 

Later that evening during the revival meeting, I saw the elderly man I scared half to death going up for prayer. I reckon he figured he’d better not take any chances while there was a wild woman roaming the halls of the hotel.

“For Each One Should Carry His Own Load.” 

Ever tried taking on more than you can handle? It’s so easy to do. At the time it all seems manageable to you, but down the road you find yourself burdened down with not only your load, but everyone else’s as well. Christians always seem to feel that if they do more work, God will love them more. The truth is He just wants a relationship with us, and no amount of work we do will make that relationship better. But still we take it all on. We say, “Maybe if I do this in addition to this thing over here, God will look down and say,‘My, I sure do love that little son or daughter of mine. They just work, work, work.’ ”In reality, He’s looking down and saying, “Hey, I wonder when my son or daughter is going to stop running around in circles and spend some time with me.” 

It’s important to learn how to say no. We tend to feel guilty if we have to turn someone down even when we know we’re filled to capacity and can’t handle any more. Instead, we find ourselves letting“yes”leak from our mouths far too many times. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should never volunteer for anything. I’m just saying learn to weigh the load you are already carrying against the additional load someone’s asking you to take on. If you don’t, you may find yourself with no time left for your family, yourself, or your Lord. You’ll start to feel empty, burned-out, and unsatisfied. 

Slowdown. Carry a manageable load. Learn to say “no.” Spend time working on your relationship with Christ. Everything else will fall into place.

Excerpt from "Life is a Buffet So Save Room For Dessert." Copyright © by Polly D. Boyette 2005. "All rights reserved."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Restored Beauty

My brother Dennis used to love to refinish tables, cabinets and anything else he could get his hands on and he was very good at it. He could take an old scratched up table and turn it into something beautiful. Sometimes he would even rescue discarded furniture from the street and haul it home, stripping, sanding, staining and polishing until it was returned to a gorgeous piece of furniture that anyone would be proud to have in their home. 

On one such occasion, Dennis rescued an old china cabinet that someone had put out to the street. It looked pretty awful with scratches, broken glass and missing shelves. After examining the cabinet, his wife informed him that he was not bringing that piece of junk into their house. Dennis just smiled because he could visualize the finished piece in his head. 

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ll keep it out here in the garage while I work on it.” 

I was admiring the cabinet, even in its state of disrepair, because I love antiques and unique pieces of furniture. “Wow, this is such a cool cabinet,” I said, running my hands over the wood. “I can hardly wait to see what it looks like when you’re finished working on it.” 

“I’ll give you a call when it’s finished,” said Dennis. 

Months passed and I had completely forgotten about the cabinet until the phone rang one day. It was my brother inviting me over to see the finished product. Robbie Lee and I drove over later and when I walked into the garage I could not believe my eyes. The once damaged and ugly cabinet had been restored to a beautiful china cabinet with new glass, new shelves and its original wood stain. 

“Oh my,” I said, walking around the cabinet, “this must have taken a lot of work and a lot of hours.” 

“Yeah, but it was well worth it, don’t you think?” asked Dennis. 

“Didn’t it turn out great?” his wife asked. “He did a wonderful job on it didn’t he?” 

“Yes, it’s absolutely gorgeous,” I said. 

“It’s yours,” said Dennis, looking at me.

“What?” I asked. “You’re giving this gorgeous cabinet to me? Why?” 

“Yeah, why?” asked his wife. 

“Because you saw the beauty in it when it was just a broken down piece of trash,” Dennis answered. “You saw its potential. I want you to have it. We don’t really have a place for such a big piece in our house.” 

“I don’t know what to say,” I said. “I will definitely find a place for it in my home if you really want me to have it. I mean, I would really love to have it if you don’t want it.” I glanced over at Dennis’s wife to make sure she was okay with all of this. 

“He’s right,” she admitted with a smile. “We don’t have room for it and you did admire it the day he brought it home. It just looked like a piece of trash to me.” 

Dennis loaded up the cabinet in his truck and I followed him to my house. We carefully placed the newly restored china cabinet in my dining room and then we all stood back to admire it. It looked perfect in my home. 

Dennis gave me a hug and a kiss. “Enjoy it,” he said. 

“Don’t worry,” I said through tears. “I will always cherish this gift.” 

Many years have passed since Dennis gave me the beautifully restored cabinet and it stills sits in my dining room. We lost Dennis to cancer in July of 1999, but I remember him each time I pass the beautifully restored china cabinet in my dining room. 

We sometimes see ourselves like the broken-down and damaged china cabinet. We feel like our lives are on the trash heap. We don’t see ourselves as having any value or any signifi cance in life. We are often damaged from our past and our hearts have been badly broken. However, God sees us through different eyes. He sees in us the beauty that can be restored and He redeems us through His Son Jesus. He thought we were worth saving. So much so that He sent His only Son to die on a cross for us. 

Others may look at us and say, “That one doesn’t have any value.” But God sees value in each of us. We need to learn to see ourselves as God sees us. He is not looking at us with condemning eyes, but with arms wide open and filled with love. He wants to rescue us and restore us to the persons He intended for us to be. 

You have heard the saying, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder?” God sees the beauty that has been covered over by years of mistakes, 

bad decisions, disappointments, hurt, broken relationships and sin. If we allow Him, He will strip away those layers, sand out the rough spots and seal us with His Holy Spirit, preserving us as His own. 

Romans 3:24 says, “God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.” (The Message) 

God sees us as very valuable; so valuable, in fact, that He has made a deposit in us with the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing our inheritance. He has made us heirs with His Son Jesus. We are kings and priests. We have not been discarded or left out on the street like worthless trash. He wants to rescue us and restore us, and all this so we can have a close and intimate relationship with Him. 

We must learn to look past the outer layers of a damaged life and see what God sees, a person worth rescuing, a life worth changing and a life worth restoring to beauty and value through Christ. 

Excerpt from "Life is a Buffet So What's On Your Plate?" Copyright © 2009 by Polly D. Boyette "All Rights Reserved"

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Choices We Make

Sometimes we pay very little attention to the choices we make on a daily basis. Some of them seem so insignificant and routine that we fail to understand how they can impact our lives in the long run. Many times we give ourselves away to everything around us without using discretion or wisdom in determining what is beneficial and what is not. We fill our plates, and before we clear them, we reach for more servings until we have more than we can possibly use or digest. In the end, many things get wasted because we have taken on more than we can chew, so to speak. 

I’m not saying we always have the time to plan and analyze every single choice we make or we’d never get anything done. Sometimes snap decisions have to be made in our lives because of unexpected events and we have very little time to react. However, whenever possible, we must be conscious of our choices, making certain we don’t just make blind choices we will regret down the road. Even the smallest choices we make day to day can have a big impact on our lives. For example, choosing not to say I am sorry could cause a tiny crack in a relationship to grow into a huge chasm. The damage might be devastating and long lasting. 

The best tool we have working in our lives is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwells inside of us and acts an umpire, warning us when we are running out of bounds or when we make bad choices. Our lives should be examples to others, not chaotic and burdensome. 

I Thessalonians 4:7-8 reminds us, “God hasn’t invited us into a disorderly, unkempt life, but into something holy and beautiful—as beautiful on the inside as the outside. If you disregard this advice, you’re not offending your neighbors; you’re rejecting God, who is making you a gift of his Holy Spirit.” (The Message) 

If you are not a Christian, the best choice you could ever make is to ask Christ to rule over your life. You don’t have to wait for everything to be perfect before you present yourself to God, because this will never happen. God knew we could not live a perfect life, and for that reason He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross. He loves us unconditionally. He will take you right where you are. All it takes is for you to pray this prayer, “Lord, I place my life in your hands and I’m sorry for my past sins. I ask you to rule over my heart. From this moment on I am a Christian and Christ now dwells in me. Amen.” It is that simple. 

I will never forget the words of my pastor, Steve Kelly. He said, “Everyone has the freedom of choice, but no one has the freedom from consequences.” This is so true and a good principle to remember when we’re choosing what we will and will not allow on our plates. 

Weigh your choices wisely. Take inventory of what’s on your plate before it becomes filled to capacity. Learn what to throw away and what to keep. Renew your mind every day and remember why you were saved. 

“Acts 26:17-18, “I’m sending you off  to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off  to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.” (The Message) 

So what’s on your plate? I hope the stories on my blog have brought some laughter to your day, but most of all, I hope they have helped to inspire you to think about the choices you make along the way so you can have the abundant life God intends for you.