“Help me!”

Author, Adrienne Yerzy
Author, Adrienne Yerzy

I’m in love with my 2 year old nephew; like, I call my sister-in-law and ask her if I can babysit. Recently on a Saturday morning I took the little guy out on the town. We started at the doughnut shop and got a sprinkled doughnut, then went to Borders Bookstore to see Thomas the Train; to Target to get some toys, and then to the pet shop, or as I told him “the zoo”. Modesto’s zoo is the best! You can pet the rabbits, watch the turtles, and find 100 Nemo’s and Dory’s…and auntie doesn’t have to take care of any of them.

While we were at the pet shop, we turned the corner to see a huge, I mean HUGE, parrot. Tail included, it was about 4 feet tall, and it was trapped in a 6 foot cage. Not only was this gorgeous, very colorful creature confined to a small space, but it could talk and it said “Help me!”… over and over.

The voice of the parrot haunted me for quite a while, a few hours actually. It was so sad to me that one of God’s prettiest creatures was trapped and unable to live a full live as was intended. And while I reflected on the sad image, it kept saying in the background “Help ME!” Soon, it was time to leave, so we got some pizza and I finally took him home.

I had a few errands to run on my way home and stopped by a store to pick up a few things. While I was there I crossed paths with a young man who was very clearly in pain. I will not go into details why I knew this, and honestly, as our paths crossed, I didn’t really think much of it. I walked back to my car still hearing “Help me!” and the thought hit me. The young man was in a cage too. He was trapped. He may have had bad things done to him. He might be making his own bad choices. He might be… so many things, but what he is for sure is: loved by God.

The thought struck me then, and obviously still strikes a chord with me now. Why did a trapped bird affect me more than a trapped soul? Maybe we’ve seen hurt too much to be affected appropriately by it. I’m sure there is more to it.

I’m thankful that God sent a reminder to me to start looking into faces. To pray in the moment for someone who seems lost, hurt, or angry, to intentionally offer a word of encouragement, or whatever I have available in the moment. Because if we see something that affects are hearts, I think it is God’s call to take action. Not to the church, not to the government, not to your husband. To you. To me. And this realization and call to act is what it has been looking like …just living the thing.

The Power Of Prayer…

Author, Sonna Evans
Author, Sonna Evans

We have all had them. Those times when there is so much trouble all around that you think,

“Nothing else, Lord, please.”

When it rains it pours. This week I was asked to pray for some pretty heavy things. Friends and family in crisis: a child with a mysterious physical ailment, a family member using drugs, a loved one incarcerated, children not walking with the Lord and making unhealthy life choices

These things can get us down, make us feel overwhelmed, discouraged.

In my devotion today I was reading Mark 3 and three phrases caught my attention:

“…they were silent”,

“He was grieved at their hardness of heart”, and

“…come forward”.

I pondered, am I ever silent? Do I lift my requests to the Lord, asking for His power and might? Not always. Is my heart hard? Do I think nothing will ever change, do I refuse to pray because of this? Sometimes. Do I come forward? Do I bring my requests before the God of Heaven and Earth who has proved Himself over and over and over again to be faithful and true? If I don’t, why not?

I get discouraged. I don’t know about you, but I often take on the weight of the things I am asked to pray for. This is not what God has intended. In Psalm 55 He says to cast your cares on Him, all who are weary are encouraged to come to Him in Matthew 11, and in Jeremiah 33 to call to Him and He will answer. I need to practice these commands and allow Him to shoulder the burdens.

The other thing I do when others ask me to pray is to think,

“All I can do is pray.”

Hmm, all I can do is pray? Is there something better I could be doing? All I can do is pray? All I can do is ask the most mighty, omniscient, powerful Being in this entire universe for help? I am chuckling right now because sometimes I really do think I could do something to fix whatever is wrong, then God could focus on other things. Now that it is down in print, it looks pretty silly. Prayer is the BEST thing I can do for someone!

Prayer is a powerful thing, because God is powerful. He wants us to come to Him. He wants us to lay our requests at His feet. He wants us to live free from anxiety and worry. In Him are the answers.

Ladysmith Black Mombazo sings, “We Nhliziyo Yami”

Oh, my heart be wise when your enemies surround you,

keep praying, ask the Lord for help, for He is powerful.

That is your weapon, do not lose.

Pray without ceasing for the Lord is powerful.

Father, my prayer from 1Thessalonians 5 is that I will always rejoice, always pray, and in all circumstances give thanks, because I know that this is your will for me in Christ Jesus as I am …just living the thing.

Out of the mouth of babes…

Author, Erin Collins
Author, Erin Collins

It seems there is growing population of Christian children with divorced parents. My parents divorced when I was six and though I was not too involved in the process, I grew up with it, loving both my parents, but not really knowing till later that our family situation was “not normal” or “how it should be”.

Seventeen years later I am about to marry the man I do not want to live without, and suddenly my parents’ divorce is something that sets me apart.  Something I had nothing to do with suddenly felt like my sin to carry.

Nothing hurt more than to have Christians I look up to assume I need to be treated differently because of my parents’ marital status, or that inevitably I too will end up divorced.  I get that sin causes divorce, but we’re not just a statistic and we do not have ‘the plague’.  My heart is discouraged every time someone “lovingly” points out that I’m different because of my family background.

Wouldn’t it be much more helpful to encourage the children of divorced parents?  To inspire them to fight the statistics, to discern their relationships well, and to take the time to learn about the commitment and communication necessary to maintain a healthy relationship.  In fact, it is my parents’ divorce motivates me to take this beautiful gift from God so very seriously.

And to other children like me, if you are fearful to love, or commit to someone because of your parents’ history, guess what?  That is not of God. There is not a single verse in the Bible that says children of divorce are going to suck at relationships and never find lasting love.

It took me a long time to overcome the belief that I was not worthy of my amazing future husband because his parents were still together.  I thought my past would burden him; that I was somehow broken because of what happened when I was child.  IT’S NOT TRUE!

In fact I’ve worked pretty hard to divorce-proof my relationship.  My fiancé can attest to this as I put that man through the ringer! (Love you handsome!)

So my fellow CODs (aka Children of Divorce), if possible, examine what caused your parents’ divorce and take the steps necessary FOR YOURSELF to guard against it happening to you!  It’s God and you honey, and He’s an excellent teacher who is more than willing to help you figure it out.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” II Corinthians 5:17-18

Ultimately IT DOES NOT MATTER who thinks what about your past. You are not to blame for what you were born into. However, you are responsible for learning from the past, and what you’re going to do with this worldview you’ve been given.

Don’t let having divorced parents become a stigma.  Instead, with God’s help, rise to the challenge of having healthy, lasting relationships… just living the thing.

My Testimony…

Author, Wendy Morgan
Author, Wendy Morgan

I love watching the “I Am Not Ashamed” video testimonies at my church. The fact that God uses our trials, experiences, and sometimes even our deep pain to impact the lives of others for His kingdom is awesome and humbling at the same time.  It blows my mind that I have a part to play in God’s great plan!

However, there was a time when I didn’t think I had a story or testimony. The reason for that stinkin’ thinkin’ was because I didn’t have “a date”. You know the “date” I’m talking about; the- “I accepted Christ on this date…….and my life has never been the same” date.  After all, the greatest decision of your life should be marked by an anniversary shouldn’t it?

My date is: “Somewhere around the age of 13 at a church camp in Big Bear and my life didn’t change all that much”. Very vague and not the “Hallelujah!” experience I used to think it should have been. My life didn’t change much because I thought it was a done deal; I did my part, now God does His. My sins are forgiven and I get to go to Heaven.

I knew that to be true but aside from that I knew little else. My childhood church didn’t teach from the Bible. It taught that Jesus saves, but never that God wants to be Lord of your life.

Fast forward 20 years and I find myself in a Bible-teaching church where I am surrounded by people who actually brought their own Bibles to church. Whaaaaaat?!

I was a little uncomfortable because there was no liturgy, no reciting the Apostle’s Creed or even the Lord’s Prayer and… I didn’t bring my Bible. We sang for 45 minutes!  The pastor taught on ONE VERSE for another 45 minutes, then we went home. What was that about?!  My pride scoffed at what they called a church service, but I went back the next week, and the next, and then it became home.

How exciting to discover the God of the universe cares to have a relationship with me. His Holy Spirit indwells me. The forgiveness of my sin is for my good, AND for His glory. This is much more than just accepting Christ and going to Heaven.  My eternal life begins here in this life!  Finally, my “Hallelujah!” moment!

One of my first thoughts when I was diagnosed with cancer was,

“Well, I finally have a testimony to share”.

Now I realize God has given me a story from my very first “date” to where I am now. Loving Him, learning about Him, and believing Him have all brought me to a place of trusting Him, and what better testimony is there than that.

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Ephesions 4:1

The chance to live a life worthy of the calling of Christ; THIS is the greatest story my life could ever tell, …just living the thing.