Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

Blessing at CiCi’s Pizza

Today in prayer, I asked for my Heavenly Father to cleanse me of my sinful nature, to forgive me, to take away my quick judgement of others, to help me specifically in listening to and obeying His will for my life.  I prayed for Him to empty my house and fill me up so that I could share His love the way He desires.

After church service, I asked my 9 year old where he would like to eat for lunch.  Since it was just going to be the two of us, I thought it would be a nice treat to let him decide.  Understand, I was prepared for my least favorite dining establishments to surface as his die-hard top choice.  Any of you out there with children or grandchildren, or even younger siblings, know where I’m going with this.  My idea of a yummy Sunday dinner does not include places where you can fill up your truck with diesel, buy that roll of paper towels you’ve been needing at home for 3 days and sit down to a dinner of chicken fried steak before picking up your dessert candy bar on the way to the check out register.  It also doesn’t include places with sticky tables, 74 flavors of pancake syrups and a row of “drop your quarter here to win” machines.  So when he said, ‘CiCi’s Pizza!”, I quickly agreed.  It might not be a restaurant in my top ten list, but it was in his, and a far better choice than some of the other places that share a position in that same list.  The fact that I only had $13 dollars in cash in my purse also made it easy to say “yes” to CiCi’s.

You might think that’s the blessing I’m getting to.  But it’s not.  I was, however, very thankful.

11:15am – we arrived.  I must say, if you’re going to CiCi’s on a Sunday after church, it’s good to get there early if you can.  We were the first patrons there, and it was a very different, wonderfully pleasant, experience than what I’ve had there before.  The floors and tables were all shiny and clean.  The food, all fresh and hot.  As a matter of fact, upon entrance, we were asked if we wanted any particular types of pizzas, because they would be happy to prepare them for us.  Customer service at it’s best!  We ate like royalty, selecting from a number of pizzas that seemed to be cooked “just for us”.  It was quiet.  It was peaceful.  Words I’ve never before used to describe this restaurant.  It had been years since I had last been there to eat, but I must confess now, I look forward to going back with the whole family one Sunday after church.

As we were finishing up, a homeless man walked in.  Well, I assumed he was homeless.  It didn’t take me a split second to judge him based on his clothing and the items he carried with him.  There I was judging – something I specifically prayed about an hour earlier.  I need to quit that. He wore a long-sleeved green shirt (it was 78 degrees outside!), a ragged straw hat, and carried a sleeping bag, several jackets, and a guitar with him.  I watched closely as he placed his things at a table diagonally across from us.  He seemed tired.  I looked at his face, searching for some sign of something opposite from what I was assuming him to be.  I didn’t see anything.  No smile.  His eyes were covered by the brim of his hat.  When he walked past me to get a plate of food, I was encouraged:

          Go talk to him.

What?  I know you don’t want me to talk to this man!

          Go talk to him. 

Father!  How can I go talk to him?  You know that’s not something I’m comfortable doing.

I continued to sit at my table, as my son voraciously plowed through his dessert rolls and brownies.  He was clueless as to the battle I was having.  I wondered, “Could that be the Holy Spirit nudging me?”.

          Go talk to him.

What would I say?  Father, how could I be a blessing to this man?  Look at him.  He’s wearing
his shirt inside out.  How do I know if he even speaks english?  What if he’s not a Christian?
How can I just go talk to him?

Another 5 minutes went by, with me trying to convince myself that I should not go talk to this man who clearly the Holy Spirit wanted me to engage with.

          Go talk to him.

Look, he doesn’t want any company.  See how he keeps his hat on, pulled down over his
forehead?  How do I know he’s not a serial killer?  I’m here with my young son, why should I
put us in potential jeopardy by talking to this stranger?  He is strange, Lord.  I mean, look
at him!  He’s not even taking his hat off at the table.  That’s so disrespectful.

At that very moment, the man removed his hat, and held it down in front of his face as he blessed the meal before him.

It was undeniable now – I was definitely being told to go to this man, and it was not an option for me not to do just that.  My Heavenly Father gave me a directive, and shot down my excuses when he allowed me to witness this.  LOUD AND CLEAR, I was given the command again.

          Go talk to him.

Okay, Father, I will.  But help me here.  What in the world can I do to be a blessing to this
man?  He’s already paid for his meal, because you do that when you come in, so I can’t buy his
food.  You know, Father, that I don’t have any cash to give him.  I just spent that last 13 dollars
in cash I have, plus the 5 cents I dug out of the bottom of my purse.  What am I supposed to do?

As I waited for directions, I watched as the man very carefully cut into his salad.  Was he as solemn as he appeared now, or was he lonely?  What was his story?  Why was he homeless?

You haven’t answered me, Father.  Oh, I got a pack of flower seeds today at church, and was
told to share them with someone and invite them to church.  You know, planting seeds.  Do
you want me to invite him to church?  Father, that seems silly.  Why would I give a homeless
man a pack of flower seeds?

No answer came.  No directives.  No clear instructions were offered on what I was to do or say to this man.  Nothing.  My son was enjoying far too much root beer.  We were beyond finished with our dinner.  It was time for me to obey, or time for us to leave.

Okay, Lord, I’m going.  I’m going.  I don’t know how I can bless this man, but I’m trusting you
to help me.

I told my son to stay at the table and that I would be right back.

Me:  Sir, do you mind if I join you for a minute?

The man:  No, no, just move my things over there and have a seat.

As the man looked up at me, I instantly saw his cleanliness.  His eyes, sparkly and blue, conveyed a warmth that I hadn’t seen beneath the brim of his hat earlier.  This man whom I had thought of as unkempt and dirty, now looked refreshed, well-groomed, and so kind.

Me:  I saw you when you came in, and I just wanted to tell you what a blessing seeing you has
been to me.  You are an apparent traveler, and you have a guitar.  I have a son who is a
traveler, and he carries his guitar, too.

The man:  (as he touched my hand) Praise the Lord!

As it turns out, Joe is indeed a traveler, but he is not homeless.  He left his home back in California in January of this year.  Joe is on a journey.  One he says has taken him years to begin.  Joe is 68 years old, and in obedience, is walking from “sea to shining sea”.  Yep!  He’s walking from California to our side of the country, and up the coast.  In doing so, he’s relying on God to direct his paths to people he can share the love of Christ with.

Joe and I only talked for a few minutes, but during that time, we shared as brother and sister, we prayed a prayer of thanksgiving, and encouraged each other to continue in our walks for Christ, no matter how difficult it may be at times.  And we delighted in the joy that comes from obedience.  My youngest son didn’t do as I had asked, and after seeing me engaging in conversation with Joe, came over to introduce himself.  It was a real gift to be able to share this experience with my son.

I prayed this morning for my Heavenly Father to cleanse me, to forgive me, to help where I am weak and to lead me in how to be obedient to His will for my life.

Praise God, My Father heard me, and he answered me!

All this time I didn’t understand how I could bless this “homeless man”…and as it turned out, Joe was to be a blessing for me.  I’m so happy I was obedient today, because when we are obedient, we don’t miss the blessings God has planned for us.  And, oh boy, does He have blessings lined up for us all!

2 Thessalonians 2:13

The Blessing of A Kitten Named Turkey

Meet Turkey.  She is the latest addition to our family.  How did we get her?  Turkey actually found us.  She was screaming (meowing) early one morning for us to let her in, so we did.  We were amazed right away by the mighty big voice she had for being such a tiny kitten.  It was obvious, upon first glance, that she was not someone’s pet.  Dirty, boney, flea-covered, and appearing to be missing an eye at first, we knew we couldn’t turn her back out onto the street.  So here we are, about 2 1/2 weeks later, and this tiny kitten has us smitten with her!

The Day She Found Us

Like any other healthy kitten, Turkey is rambunctious and busy every single second she is awake, but she is still a baby, so she has several catnaps a day and knows when it is bedtime for the rest of us.  Without being taught or encouraged, she’s learned to jump onto the foot of our bed as we’re turning in for the night. It’s a neat routine.  We get into bed.  Moments later, we can feel the tiny bounce of her massive 1.5 pound body, and she immediately turns on her purr.  When we call to her (“Turkey, good little Turkey, sweet kitty Turkey….”), she turns her purr up even louder.  And if we rub her beneath her chin, she purrs even louder still!  It’s funny, because when she’s running around the house all day, you won’t hear a purr out of her at all.  But at bedtime, in her contentment and seemingly gratitude, she offers us the warmth of her happiness through a purr. She appears to offer us “the purr” as a means of thanksgiving for taking her in.  For loving her. 

This past Tuesday, like most days as I’m driving to work, I was reflecting on the morning devotion and thinking about the scripture it was based upon.  Before I knew it, I was singing praises to our Saviour – belting it out! – unscripted words on paper, but definitely scripted in my heart.  Don’t you just love that when it happens?!  I was singing praises of thanks for the many, many blessings God has shown me, and for those that I knew He has in store for me yet to come.  Hallelujah, He knows my past, present and future!  As I was singing, I became aware of this warmth, building inside – almost as if some nurtured energy was about to unfold – like a daisy opening it’s petals beneath he morning’s early dew.  And as I continued to sing praises, that warmth became greater, and greater, until I was filled with such enormous joy!  Immediately, I began to think of Turkey, our newest feline family member, and an understanding of this joy came to me in the very simple, tangible definition of this tiny beast. Just as Turkey lands on the foot our our bed, offering her warm little purr that grows a little louder with some praiseful cooing, and then even louder with the anticipation of an outstretched hand coming toward her…… was the warmth, the radiation of the Holy Spirit within me.  The more I praised, the more I poured my heart out in Thanksgiving, the more I could feel the love and satisfaction of my Father.  Thank you, thank you, sweet Lord for giving me a glimpse of  the happiness you must feel when we glorify you and praise your name, in terms that I can understand.  Thank you for showing me this…..yet another blessing!

So maybe not everyone would understand it if I compared the warmth of the Holy Spirit to the instinctive purr of a cat…..but that’s okay.  Our wonderful Saviour has showed me in a way he knows I can understand.  He will reveal things to you, too, in ways you can understand them best. Our Father knows each of us, loves each of us, and is ready to reveal things to you in your language – way you can understand.  All you have to do is believe with all your heart, and listen for his gentle way.    John 14:  16-17

2 Weeks After Finding Us

A blessing in the making:  The night Turkey found us, we were in the middle of singing praises to our Saviour, literally.  We were at a recording studio with our oldest son as he was working on the final tracks for a song titled “Magnify”.  It was when taking a donut break at 2:00am that Turkey came-a-callin’.  Praise God for all the blessings, big and small, known and yet to come!

Be magnified
As we sing your praise and lift your name
Up higher than the mountaintops you made

                                 (c) 2011 – D. Johnston 

His Word Is Alive!

A few months back when I started this blog, my first post was the story behind the name, The Toenail.  I didn’t have scripture to back up what I was experiencing and longing for “in real life”, but I heard God’s message loud and clear:   We are all important to the Body of Christ.

Yesterday, several months after creating this blog, I came upon scripture that revealed this very same message.  How cool is that?  How I came across it is even “cooler”.  The devotion that I read (most every day) from our church referenced 1 Co 3:13.  Immediately desiring to see what the word had in store for me, I turned to Colossians 3:13.  This scripture reads:

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  Then it continues in verse 14: “And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Hmmmm.  This is great scripture – and the subject of forgiveness is always a dear one for me – but it had absolutely nothing, from what I could tell, to do with the devotion I had just read.  Then I noticed that in my devotion book, the scripture had a “one” before the initials Co.  I didn’t have a first Colossians in my Bible.  I wondered why the devotion book had placed the “one” before the initials.  Not even thinking that I could be wrong, I asked my son about it.  I’m so glad he doesn’t judge me for not knowing the abbreviations for the books!  Apparently Co stands for Corinthians, of which there is a “one” and “two”, instead of for Colossians.  So next, I turned to the correct referenced scripture.  It reads:

“…his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.”

Okay, this makes more sense with the devotion, which was about “doing what you’re supposed to do”.  Still, the conversation with my son continued, as we shared about different parts of 1 Corinthians that we have studied.  That’s when I came across the scripture – THE scripture! – the message God had so clearly revealed to me months earlier when I was doubting my significance in the Body of Christ.  1 Corinthians 12 verses 12 through 31 are so exciting to me!  It’s beautiful scripture.  Look it up!  I’m so thankful for God’s perfect timing in revealing things to us.  Had I been shown that scripture months ago, I may not have started this blog.  But because of my experience and wondering how God can use “little ole me”, He has shown me personally, allowing for the creation of this blog, and has now validated His message to me in scripture.  That is so cool!  His word is certainly alive!

Stop, Drop and Pray

You’ve heard that saying before…”Stop, Drop and Roll”.  You may have learned it when you were very young, like I did in elementary school when the local firemen visited our classroom to teach us the importance of remembering this life saving phrase.  I didn’t really understand the importance of those words when I was younger, but the phrase was so catchy that I held on to it and gained a better knowledge of what it meant as I grew older.  Thankfully, I’ve never had to put the phrase into action, but I think I could if I was ever in a situation where it was needed.  Those firemen taught a fundamental lesson and did so very well.

God has been moving in my life, and things that I’ve been taught or heard over the years are coming to life left and right.  Praise God!  It’s like a light switch being turned on!  That’s how I woke this morning.  In the pitch dark of my bedroom, before I even opened my eyes, I was reflecting on and thanking God for all of the opportunities He’s given me recently, and that’s when it came to me – Stop, Drop and Pray.

Just yesterday, while standing in the parking lot of WalMart, I met a man.  I’m going to call him Mr. Calvary Baptist Church, because I can remember that instead of his name (I’m terrible with names, and I’m not in denial, but chances are if I’ve met you, you hold a special moniker, too).  I really thought, upon hearing this man’s voice across the way, that I knew him.  I really thought, upon seeing his profile, that I knew him.  Excited to share with him some good news, I grabbed a flyer to an upcoming event and called to him.  As he  came closer, I realized that I didn’t know him at all!  Wow!  That was a hearing AND sight blooper, but that’s another blog for another time.  Moving on.   This normally would have embarrassed me, but now, so many things that would have done that before just remind me it’s an opportunity.  Within moments of our introduction, I had made that statement we all hear so many times, “Will you pray for _________”.  You fill in the blank.  I’ve asked people to pray for my mother, our President, a stressful situation I was facing, a friend’s sick husband, for clarity…….and so on.  And without batting an eye, this man who I had only known for seconds, put his arm around my shoulder, and right there in the parking lot of WalMart, in the middle of the day, front and center to the entrance doors, he began to pray.

Stop, Drop and Pray.  STOP DROP AND PRAY!  I get it, Lord.  I hear you!  Why has it taken me so long to understand this?  I’ve been doing this recently, and didn’t even know I was doing what has been taught to me all these years – what I’ve seen around me.  Other people have prayed on the spot when I’ve asked for prayer, but yesterday’s opportunity connected the dots for me.  Instead of agreeing to pray for someone when they ask me to, at a later time, I am going to pray right away, with them, if I can.  There are so many needs, and so many things that need to be prayed over.  I’ve tried to put them aside oftentimes until they accumulate and I, within a structured timeframe, pause to remember the list and pray at a “more convenient time”, or a “more private time”.  There’s nothing wrong with that – God wants our prayer and our conversation always, in all ways.  But today, I wake with a desire to address prayer immediately…to slow down and bring things to God in real time…to stop putting prayer time in a box and keeping it closed….

Thank you, Mr. Calvary Baptist Church.  I wish I could tell you how much the opportunity to meet you yesterday has meant to me!  “Stop, Drop and Roll” may be a life-saving phrase, but “Stop, Drop and Pray” is a saved-life phrase.  Now I have to go put it into action!