I have a nephew I‘ve always thought of like my brother. He lives on the east coast and me on the west coast. Neither of us has a lot of disposable income we can just spend to fly back and forth. Only due to the death of a family member does he make it out to visit. His younger brother has begun chemo for liver cancer, so on his way to spend time with his brother, he made a stop in Idaho for a few days to spend with my husband and I. Nine months ago his father died of cancer, so we all gathered together for that reunion. A year before that, his grandmother passed away, so we spent time together then. I am always so excited to get together with my nephew who I seldom see, but through each visit, I am competing with his cell phone. I thought maybe I was boring him.
I feel rejected by a family member or friend when they spend more time on their phone than enjoying the moment together. It has taken the loss of family members to bring the rest of us together, but it only takes a small, electronic device to divide us when we occupy the same room, car or dinner table. In my day, it was the television that took priority at meal time. Before the television, the newspaper was the older generations escape from conversations. God made us for relationships, but have you noticed how people hide behind their screens to avoid a conversation with their spouse, children or friend?
We are becoming people that are so self-absorbed, we’re unaware of our own surroundings. One of my favorite things to do is to go camping where electronics don’t work. I love to sit and listen to the sound of nature. The breeze blowing through the leaves; the birds making joyful sounds; the frogs calling for a mate, or the sound of the creek spilling over the rocks. I take the time to appreciate God’s wonderful work and listen to His small voice. I sometimes sing praises to my Lord my God or read scripture.
The last generation of children have grown up with computers, cell phones, tablets, and the list goes on. I feel sad for those that can‘t appreciate the sounds of silence, a good board game with family or friends, or visiting with those who are elderly and have some very interesting stories to share. I am so looking forward to heaven. Please God, don‘t let there be cell phones or computers. Amen.
Our small group just finished up on the book of Jonah. In all sincerity, the only information I had about Jonah was that a huge fish swallowed him. I never knew why. Did Jonah get loose, or become fish food? The book is only a few pages but it’s an extremely powerful story. I never knew how we as Christians have so much in common with Jonah as difficult as it is to admit.
Has God called upon you to do something you didn’t want to do? Have you ignored the call? Jonah was a prophet. God gave Jonah a mission to travel to Nineveh, inform them about God, and to get the Assyrian people to repent and seek redemption. Jonah hated the Assyrian people because of their heartless cruelty to the Israelites. He knew that God was a loving and forgiving God and didn‘t feel that the Assyrian people deserved mercy. Jonah decided to hide from God by getting on a ship in route to Tarshish. As I read this part, I wondered, Jonah’s a prophet and still he thinks he can hide from God? God, unrelenting, intervenes in Jonah’s plan of escape by sending a storm and breaking up the boat. This you might say, is God’s wake up call. Has God ever tried to get your attention? Has He broken something in your world to draw you back to Himself?
I honestly can’t say I’ve tried to hide from God, but I must admit there have been people in my life I haven’t wanted to pray for because I didn’t like them, or I didn’t feel as though they deserved forgiveness or redemption. Have you ever wanted to keep God’s grace to yourself rather than sharing it with those you felt were less deserving? Ouch! These are the storms that God may have sent to help bring closure or peace in your heart. God is asking us to step out in obedience. We may not understand what His intentions are, but we should realize God has a plan for us and will challenge us to do something we don’t want to do.
God asked me last year to serve in the Youth Ministry (high school girls) at our church. “No, thank you,” I said. “I’d rather serve on the worship team.” But God was not letting me off the hook that easily. He continued to put youth ministry on my heart. I finally said to Him, “You know my past when I was a teenager. I hardly think I‘d be a suitable example.” But that was His point. I would have empathy. I could sense the battles these girls were experiencing because I had been one with a history I‘m not too proud of, but if it could help save these girls from the mistakes I made, maybe, just maybe, something positive could come out of my shame. And so I serve, and I love it. God knew what He was doing.
My mother was a trailblazer of her time. She was a strong woman who had a rough time growing up herself. She taught me the only things you can count on in life are your fingers and yourself. (I count on the Lord). My mother drilled into my head the value of an education, a college degree, and a good career. She never wished to be one of those women reliant on a man to support her. She worked hard and, opened her own business. My mom became a widow in 1961 when I was 13 months old, leaving my mother to raise me and my ten-year-old sister. Fortunately, mom had set herself up to be independent. With no life insurance, it was up to her. Government handouts were against her values. As long as she was able, she would work to support her family.
Growing up, I wanted to get married, have a family and be a stay at home mom. My sister, being ten years older than I, did just that, although it didn’t work out the way she’d envisioned either. She had three little boys and a husband who was struggling too, “find himself,” causing my sister to be the main provider. Nine years and three children later, she turned into a single mom struggling and dependent upon government programs to make ends meet.
My mom passed away when I was 23-years-old, leaving me alone and panicked. It was now imperative I marry and a start a family so I wed the first man that came along. He had a stable job, devoted to his family and said he loved me. While I wasn’t crazy in love with him, I wanted someone to take care of me. What I discovered was, I had married a control freak. He monitored everything I did and every dime I spent. Two years later, we divorced.
My mother’s words came back to haunt me, “You need to have a career that offers full benefits and a retirement fund. You need to rely on yourself. When you depend on government or another person to support you, you give up your power.” It was now the time I implemented the advice my mother had shared.
I went back to college, earned my master’s degree, became a special education teacher, opened a learning center, published a book and was a speaker/presenter for the National Tutoring Association.
I have endured many struggles and lessons learned in my life. I want to be a trailblazer like my mother was. My mission is to empower women, help them discover their God-given gifts and become what God has created them to be.