How Will You Spend Christmas This Year?

Christmas is an opportunity for people to see the peace that the Holy Spirit has given us. The way our society does Christmas is stressful. We should not allow the stress of others to affect the peace we want to experience. Remember, non-believers should see us act differently than others. We experience the same temptations and stress that others do, but with the help of the Holy Spirit and the Word as well as the strength that other believers give, we are not affected the same way. In order to have the peace God provides, we must abide in Christ. This Christmas we are setting aside time to spend in prayer and worship our King. This will give us a different perspective and enable us to be more Christ like.

Colossians 3 is a great text about setting our minds on things above and then the resulting love that comes from that. As people see us differently it gives us the opportunity to speak about Jesus and opens the door to discipleship. My husband and I have no family in Idaho so we have made this holiday season a time to serve others however God wants to use us. We refuse to surrendor to the secular world by putting ourselves into a mountain of debt on possessions we certainly don’t need.

Christmas will also be a good time to work on disciple making skills.  Invite a friend, a neighbor or even a stranger to attend Christmas service with you.  Oh, one more thing, before you go making those New Year’s Resolutions, you might Ask God what changes He would like to help you with. After all, nobody knows you better!

 

Sometimes It Takes A Child To Teach a Teacher

Mondays always tend to be the worst day of the week for me where my job is concerned. Not because I’m coming off a weekend and want another day to relax. On Mondays, we must have our billing logs and time sheets turned in by noon. I’ve always been able to get mine turned in on time. The problem is that every week I get a text from my supervisor asking me to come in after work and fix my billing logs.  I have worked for this company for almost three years now, and at least twice a month, I make errors that require me to sit down and re-do them all over again.  My agency bills the state for each student that receives Medicaid benefits for services.  We are required to bill every 15 minutes which comes out to being 1 unit. Then there are two, three, or four different services students receive, and they each have a different billing log.  It becomes very confusing and requires employees to convert the hours into units and record it in decimal form on our time sheets.

Now math has never been my strong point. Back when I was in high school, we were not required to take algebra to graduate.  In college, I chose to take a foreign language rather than a year of college algebra after many attempts of trying to learn. One of my reasons for wanting to be a special education teacher was to avoid higher math skills that I never really had the patience or the comprehension skills for being successful.   For the past three or four months now, I have had a call every Monday morning. Today, it was from the owner of the company herself, and she does not mince words. She does not care what excuse you may have; it’s the employee’s responsibility to figure it out and do it right. This morning she said, ” I don’t know what to tell you, Karen. You’ve been here about three years now, and this has become a weekly issue.”  I tried to explain that I honestly didn’t know why I continuously mess up, that the conversion of the hours,  the unit hour conversion to the decimal thing is just challenging for me. She offered no sympathy, just a condescending tone saying, “Well, you need to figure this out because it takes time out of my day to have to continuously correct you.  It’s basic math;  it’s not that difficult!”  Tears were about to spill over the brim of my eyes.   I had to make a quick escape before she saw me crying.

I took a few minutes in the restroom to let it out, wash my face and get back to my student.  This young lady is new to our school this year.  She is a sixth grader and falls under the category of developmentally disabled.  She has a lot of behavioral issues as well as academic challenges.  She tends to whine and complain about how difficult the work is; she constantly refers to me to validate her answers because she doesn’t want to get them wrong.  I have found her behavior and learned helplessness extremely frustrating and annoying.  We’ve gone over the same concepts every day since September.  I’m never sure if she just wants attention or if she truly doesn’t understand.   Do you see where this is going?

As I sat down next to her, she quietly said, “Ms. Karen,  I tried to do these problems while you were gone, but I got them all wrong.  I just don’t get it. What’s wrong with me?”  I kid you not; I felt the presence of the Lord and heard the small voice ask me, “Do you ‘get it’ yet?”    Sometimes it takes a student to teach the teacher something you can’t learn in graduate school — empathy, compassion, and patience.  How many times had I used a condescending tone with this student that expressed my frustration?  Many times I found myself saying to her, “It’s simple math.  It’s not difficult.  If you have five and someone takes one away, how many do you have left? You shouldn’t have to use your fingers.”

I looked up and whispered, “I get it, Lord. Thank you.”  I hugged my student and stated, “There is nothing wrong with you.  You are wonderfully made.  Math is hard for me too.  I understand how frustrated you must be to do the same problem over and over and not understand why you keep getting it wrong.  I’m truly sorry that I sound mad sometimes. ”  She gave me a quick smile and said, “I just don’t like getting things wrong because it makes me feel stupid and I want you to be proud of me.”  The tears came streaming down my cheeks, and I reaffirmed, “I am proud of you.  You have come a long way since you started in September.  Now let’s take a look at the question and see if I can help you figure out the solution.”

Sometimes the problems seem small, but so is the child.  What I learned here is that we can’t assume just because you have gone over something a thousand times with your child, student,  or an aging parent doesn’t mean they understand.  My students that have autism have taught me that much over the years.  We are all wired differently and what may seem simple to me may be quite challenging for someone else.

I have a comprehension problem with my billing logs each week.  My supervisor made it very apparent that she was frustrated and fed up with my carelessness. It was hurtful and unforgiving, and I left feeling stupid and incompetent in doing what I’m expected to do.    The lesson I hope we all can learn from this story is compassion for others.  The bible has many references regarding compassion.   I am so glad we have a God that is a compassionate God.

 “But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” ~Psalm 86:15

 

 

 

How to Find Peace in a Country of Chaos

I honestly don’t know how atheists get through everyday life. As our country has fallen into a cauldron of darkness and repressed anger, some Americans become a part of the havoc around them, while others live in their bubble unaware of the surroundings and circumstances that are creating a new world order.  As Christians, what can we do to keep from falling victim to the world’s chaos?  When I find myself worrying about the condition our country is in, when I see the ugly side of people full of hatred and rage, as I listen to nations turning against nations I return to the book of Matthew 24:6 “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nations will rise against nations and kingdoms against kingdoms. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”  Our secular population prefers to use the terms, “Global warming, racists, misogynists, xenophobics to explain such behaviors, as tension continues to grow.   Matthew24:10-12 goes on to explain,  “At that time many will turn away from faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”

There are five key areas you can adjust to combat anxiety and stress in your life. Self-help guru types claim that it takes 21 days to form or break a habit. If you can focus on doing something every day for 21 days, it will become a part of your everyday lifestyle.  To form patterns out of the critical areas of change is referred to as Keystone Habits.  Keystone habits start a chain effect in your life that produces some positive outcomes.  Let’s look at the five areas of change;  your expectations, your relationship with God, your relationship with others, your priorities and your thoughts.

#1 Expectations: One of my favorite movies during the holiday season is “Christmas Vacation.”  The main character, Clark Griswold wants to host the perfect family Christmas. His wife quickly reminds him of how he tends to have such high expectations of special occasions only to be disappointed. I believe most of us are guilty of this at one time or another.  Norman Rockwell and his famous Home for the Holiday paintings illustrate families lovingly greeting each other, presents in hand, Old English Christmas carolers,  or the family sitting around a beautiful holiday meal. These images all give us that warm fuzzy feeling and expectations that maybe we can recreate such an event in our own home. It seldom ends well.

As Christians, we may feel that we shouldn’t have so many struggles. We follow Christ, we’re making disciples, so we should have an easier go of things. Right? However, God never promised us a life without challenges. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33.

#2 Your relationship with God. With all the disarray surrounding us on a daily basis, it can easily cause a distraction and pull us away from God. It’s imperative we stay connected. If we fill our minds with His words, we can change our perspective about the circumstances that surround us.

#3 Relationship with others. I admit, my husband and I tend to be aloof from people a good share of our time. We often use the excuse that we have worked all week and wanted to spend quiet time together. However, God does not want us to isolate ourselves, but Satan does. That’s when he can do his dirty work of making us believe we don’t need other people. When we first moved here, we didn’t know a single person, so it was imperative that we connected with others right away. As the year’s pass, we have drifted back into our old way of being anti-social.

#4 Your Priorities can be summed up by your bank account and your calendar. Where does the majority of money go and how do you spend your time? If you are someone that allows other people’s expectations of you dictate how you set up your priorities, stop it!  You must determine your priorities and set up boundaries in your life to deal with stress and anxiety.

#5 Your Thoughts. The easiest way Satan can try to hurt God is through us. He is the father of lies and death. He loves to cause stress, anxiety, and depression in those of us that aren’t well suited in our armor of God.  1Peter 5:8 reminds us, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Satan knows how to influence our thinking and can lead us away from God.

We know that we can’t eliminate stress and anxiety in our lives. We can, however, look to God for strength and encouragement when we feel we are becoming distant from Him.  Even in a world of dismay, we can learn to be a disciple for Christ remember that this is not our home. We are just passing through. God is in control.

What Is Your Purpose In Life?

I remember when my husband and I first moved to Idaho to follow the Lord, the second sermon our pastor gave was, Do You Know Your Purpose In Life?  As I sat there listening, tears were burning in my eyes. I had no idea what my purpose was.  As I was leaving the sanctuary, my eyes swollen from crying, I said to the pastor, “I don’t believe I have a purpose.”  He embraced me gently and whispered in my ear, “We all have a purpose. You  need to focus on God and ask Him.”  For years I would ask myself, “What are my talents? What do I want to be? Where do I see myself five, ten, twenty years from now?” I wanted to be a singer, an actress, a teacher, a writer, a motivational speaker, a businesswoman. I took the direction of a teacher since that just felt natural. From the time I was a young girl, I would often come home from school, line up all my stuffed animals and dolls and play school, so it was no surprise to my family that I chose special education as a career right out of high school. But I felt there was more. After thirty years working with the special needs population, I wanted something more. Again I began to ask myself, “What do I want to do? What are my gifts? What is my purpose?” I soon learned that focusing on myself would never reveal my life’s purpose. “In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind”~ Job 12:10.  I remember reading Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life” years ago. I recall a passage that said, I was made by God for God. Only God knows what He designed me for. It was time to turn my attention to the Original Owners Manual, The Bible.  I found Ephesians 1:11-12   that says, “In Him we were also chosen,  having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory.” (NIV).  That verse made me realize that I WAS created for a reason. I wasn’t an accident. God did give me a special gift and I had been doing it from the time I was a child. I referenced the bible once again and discovered Proverbs 22:6  “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”   I pondered the question, “How many students have I made a difference in their life/ future? I will never really know the answer,  but that really isn’t the question I should be asking. How many students have made a difference in my life/future?” The answer of course is, all of them.

Years have gone by since the days of teaching in public schools with students having special needs. I have grown and matured in God, and now my focus is to help people understand God’s purpose in their lives. I still enjoy teaching and work in a private school.  I have taught a children’s bible study group in our church and enjoy bringing Bible stories to life for the younger ones that are just beginning their journey.  I give all the glory to God for shedding light on the true gift He’d blessed me with so many years ago. A gift I took for granted because it came so natural to me, that I never realized just how I had made a difference in the life of a child.

A Navy Veteran Rewrites Hallelujah Lyrics

Note from The Sister Christian:  Navy Vet Sailor Jerri rewrote one of the most iconic songs of all time, “Hallelujah,” in order to honor military Veterans across the country.

I always think of our soliders, especially during the holiday season.  You can Google the title of this blog and find her U-Tube Video as she sings this song with such passion and conviction that I encourage anyone that hasn’t hear this yet to check it out.

 

You packed your bags and shut the door,

You crossed the sea in a battle war,

You didn’t know  just what would happen to ya.

Stepped on the dirt, boots on the ground,

And gunfire was the only sound,

And to yourself you whispered Hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,  Hallelujah,

Every day and every night,

you walk the walk you fight the fight,

You never saw the end insight now did ya?

The days are washing a haze of red,

the blood, the mud, too many dead,

your weary soul was crying hallelujah.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,  Hallelujah,

Too late to help,  you hear a shot,

You know you’re in a deadly spot,

You never thought the day would come now did ya?

Your brother falls down to the ground,

The enemy is all around,

And from your lips you scream a hallelujah. 

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,  Hallelujah,

You fought the fight til it was done,

You have the strength to carry on,

You thought it’d be much better back home, did ya?

You try each day, keep pushin’ through,

But the battle is inside of you,

It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah,  

 

God Bless our soliders and Veterns who have served and protected our nation.     The Sister Christian wishes you and your family a safe holiday season.  Merry Christmas! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Younger Me

One of my favorite Christian songs is, “Dear Younger Me” by Mercy Me. For those of us over the age of 50, I’m confident enough to say that at least once in our life we’ve looked back and said, “If I knew then what I know now.”  Or, “I wish I’d  never done _____.” I bring this up because I was speaking with an 18-year-old co-worker this morning. This young woman already knows what she wants to do as a career and is focused on her goals and how she will get there.  Another co-worker is a beautiful 24-year old woman who is planning for her future, including retirement!  She tells me of her plans, and how she intends on how she will reach her goals and by what age. Looking back on my life,  from the age of 15-24, all I cared about was partying. I knew I wanted to be a special education teacher, but my self-esteem was so far down in the gutter that I didn’t believe in myself.   Unfortunately, I can’t go back and undo the past but what I genuinely pray I can do,  is reach young girls before they head down that path and may never return. There is something else that unfortunately is rather uncommon today.  Both my two co-workers  grew up in Christian homes with both parents that were educated and raised their daughters to be educated and independent thinkers. If I could go back and talk to my younger self, I would want to encourage me to seek out the Lord. Attend a church, ask questions, get involved in a youth group and make Christian friends that would be supportive.  I’m sad for children that have never attended a church or have learned about the Bible or our Lord Jesus Christ.  Though my mother never attended church with me, it was mandatory in our house that my sister and I attended until we were at least 16 years old. She believed that it was part of being educated. I am so grateful to her for making me go (even though I resented going ).  After my mother died I went through several years where I was so angry at God for taking her that I denied His existence (I never really doubted His presence but I was angry and  hurt.  He also had taken my dad when I was only a year old. I began to feel as though God didn’t care about me so I decided I didn’t need him anymore.  I would make it just fine on my own. I can honestly tell you, that didn’t turn out so well. Now, in my golden years, I feel so blessed to be a member of a church that emphasizes reaching children and teens through a sports program, youth groups, bible study classes, and community service programs.  As the population ages, it’s necessary to reach as many families as we possibly can.  As Christians, Christ has called upon his followers to be disciples. That is what I’m striving to become.    

Holidays Are Here Again

Is it politically incorrect to still be  Thankful? 

Here we go again.  Every year, immediately after Halloween, the Christmas decorations begin to decorate store windows, commercials showing high-end automobiles, expensive perfumes, alcohol, and Black Friday Sales. Thanksgiving seems to have taken a back seat and has almost become politically incorrect to even mention it.  When I was teaching in the public schools, teachers received an announcement asking us not to discuss Thanksgiving or introduce any form of Indian/Pilgrim stories or art projects. It had nothing to do with religious beliefs, it was about how the white man killed and robbed the Indians so therefore, we are no longer allowed to teach the traditional Thanksgiving Story. Of course, we can’t forget Christmas. Another holiday that has been removed from the schools in fear of offending other religions. What I really find hypocritical is on Thursday we bow our heads and offer thanks and talk about what we’re thankful for and Friday morning, 3am people are up and out pushing and shoving their way into the store the moment the doors unlock, run frantically to fight other people over sale items on Black Friday. 

My husband and I decided to do something different this year. Instead of spending a small fortune (that we can’t afford)  on an expensive dinner and weekend get away at a resort, we chose to spend last night volunteering to serve Thanksgiving dinner to our community.  Every year our church puts on a wonderful Free Thanksgiving feast.  It felt wonderful to greet the people, tell them about the evening and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving.  I sat with many different families and spoke with children for brief moments gave them a warm, sincere smile and told them how I enjoyed spending the evening serving them.  

What Ministry is God Leading You To?

God knitted us in our mother’s womb giving us unique personalities, gifts, and purposes in life. He also gave us free will to chose to follow Him or to take our own path and either lean on Him to help guide us in the direction He sees a need for, or, we can decide what our gifts and purposes are and take it from there.  The church has many opportunities and areas in which to serve. Many often have a card for people to fill out regarding volunteering with a list of ministries they need help with. If there is a particular ministry you are interested in, first ask yourself, “Is this where God is leading me or is this where I want to be? For whom am I serving?  Do I want to glorify God, or myself?  This was a tough lesson that I learned the hard way and feel compelled to open up and be honest about.  As a special education teacher, my gift has always been working with people with disabilities. I have been working with the disabled population for over 30 years.  As a teacher, you learn a lot of different skills that can benefit you in other areas of life.  Our church has a ministry for children with disabilities.  Seemed like an obvious fit for me. However, I honestly must admit, I didn’t give it much of a chance. I walked in thinking to myself, “Ok, I’m the professional here. Let me show you some ideas I have for this ministry.”  Of course, I never said that, but I’m sure my interaction with the others sounded boastful and proud. I wasn’t impressed with how they were running the program, so after only three visits, I decided I’d find something else to do.  I have little fear of public speaking and I love to be on stage. Since I was a young child, I was an entertainer of sorts. School plays, choirs, and later,  public professional presentations and training.  I wanted to serve on the Women’s ministry so I could teach/lead a bible study for women. I wanted to be a part of the Worship Team and sing for the Lord. However, I never got asked to serve on these ministries. For over a year I would make the requests and would wait for a response. The response never came. I finally gave up asking and became angry with the church.  How dare they not utilize my abilities and gifts.  I have great ideas, and I’m not afraid to stand up in front of people and sing or teach.  As time marched on, I became more belligerent about the church and their way of doing things.  I began spewing my discontentment to other members of the church, hoping that someone would get in touch with the “powers that be” and say, “Hey, we have a great member of our church that has some great talents and abilities. You should really give her an opportunity to serve where she feels best suited.”  However, that never happened.  Instead, I heard God speak to me one evening in the quiet of my room.  He simply asked me, “Are you wanting to glorify me, or yourself?”  OUCH!! Suddenly I felt shame and guilt. I knew just exactly what He was saying. He was right of course. I instantly recalled my attitude I displayed to other members of the church.  I wasn’t being called because that is not where God wanted me. I was reminded of what I enjoyed most when I was volunteering at the church our first year of retirement.  The Job Club and Benevolence were what I shocking loved the most. I was helping other people, adults that struggle with getting a job, writing a resume, paying their bills, dealing with life and everyday struggles.  I say “shockingly” because never in my wildest dreams could I see myself having any compassion in other people’s problems.  I was far too judgemental and believed that people created their own issues. However, I discovered that I did feel compassion when it came to people that were truly lost and struggling. It softened my heart and turned my thinking around. God needs me to serve those less fortunate. I have been blessed with much, and now it’s time to serve the Lord where He needs me. Maybe I can help others find the drive, self-esteem, and talents they haven’t recognized in themselves and inspire them to become an over-comer.  I thanked the Lord that evening for calling me out. The next small group meeting we had, I apologized to my brothers and sisters for my verbal disapproval of the church and shared with them what the Lord had said to me.  Redemption truly does feel good.  Amen. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Naked Truth

It comes as no surprise that our children are being indoctrinated these days.  I was a teacher for 30+ years.  Times have changed and so have our families, our children, our country, our world.  Is there an absolute moral truth anymore?  God made male and female. He created everything perfectly. If you take things out of God’s original intent there will be consequences. We need to get back to the original design and quit doing things our way.

So, what is truth? Whatever God says it is. PERIOD!  Males and females are different. They were to come together to bring about procreation.  Parents are to represent God to their children. Man and woman create a clearer picture of God. Marriage is a part of every culture, man and woman and a sense of permanance.

God’s design also has a purpose and rules. Jesus was given to us as a model and purpose. Our culture now identifies themselves as homosexuals, bi-sexuals, transgender, the list goes on.

As Christians, we need to remind ourselves that God is in control.  It can be frustrating but we must stand up for truth. It may not be popular, but that is what the Lord wants us to do.

When The Lord “Snitches” On You.

I now have proof that the Lord has a way of snitching on me. It’s true. He tries and tries to get my attention. If I don’t pay attention, He reverts to using my best friend to confront me.  I will explain, and you can decide if the Lord is snitching me out.

Sheryl and I have been friends for over 50 years. Nobody knows me as well as she does; not my family or my husband. We grew up together and have remained close friends even though we live six hours away. We see each other twice a year and text or email often. She has been a Christian all her life, me? Not so much.  We were about as opposite as two people can be, and yet we were best friends. When I accepted the Lord into my life and began living as a Christian, she was so excited, and our friendship has deepened through Christ.

Last spring, she came to visit me for the weekend. All seemed to be going well, but I honestly felt a bit uncomfortable. I couldn’t quite figure out why. She seemed to have changed. I shrugged it off and didn’t overthink it until I got an email from her a few days after she returned home.  She will never sugar coat things with me. She is very blunt and to the point.  She wrote, “After spending the weekend with you, I have to say I feel as though you have fallen from Christ. Your behavior was not as a Christian. You seemed to have reverted to your old self. God has put this on my heart to tell you that he misses you and wants you to talk to Him.”  I felt the anger weld up inside. How dare she. Who does she think she is anyway? Where on earth did she get the impression I had pulled away from Christ.  I knew something didn’t feel right while we were together, but it was her, not me.  I decided that maybe we just aren’t as good of friends as we once were. Perhaps, after 50+ years, we’ve grown too far apart, and the differences are too broad. I was angry at her, but I heard the Lord say, “You know she’s right. Talk to me.”

Instead of talking to the Lord, I decided to call Sheryl and ask her directly.  She pointed out that I was extremely negative and judgemental toward people. I was impatient and acting rude when we were waiting in line for a soda.  She then shared the fact that she didn’t see the Christian Karen I once was and wanted to know if there was something she could do to help. Still feeling defensive, I quickly excused myself making up some lame excuse.

I had to admit, she was right. I had pulled away from the Lord. Not intentionally, just got busy and hadn’t taken the time to focus on Him. I hadn’t been eating very well, and my diabetes was out of control. I was stressed out over money, my job and irritated with my husband too.  I went to my prayer closet and sobbed. I begged for the Lord’s forgiveness.  I openly told Him what was in my heart and asked Him to please lead me in the right direction. Satan had come between us, and it was time for him to go.

It’s now a year later, almost to the day and once again, the Lord snitched me out.  I called Sheryl one evening explaining how mad I was at God. No at God, more like angry that the world has gone crazy and I feel like He doesn’t care anymore. What is He waiting for?  I ranted for a while.  The next morning I woke to an email from her, “God wanted me to ask you this. Are you just talking AT him and not listening? You seem to be distancing yourself again. Satan is in your head.”   Dang, it!  She was right again. I wasted no time. I got down on my knees and told God how much I loved Him.  I asked for forgiveness and guidance.

The Lord will use anyone or anything that will get our attention. I’m grateful that I have a friend that knows me so well and can be the Lord’s mouthpiece when she needs to be.

I am determined to keep my eyes on the Lord and to remember He’s in control. No matter how bad things seem to be, He does care, and it breaks His heart too. Nobody knows what He’s waiting for, but it isn’t something we need to question. It’s all in His timing, not what we think.  I will continue to study scripture and be aware that Satan is lurking around. I will continue to fight to keep the devil from taking up residence in my head.

Amen.

 

 

I

GOD BLESSED ME WITH A SPECIAL FRIEND

special-needs-342264                                       GOD BLESSED ME WITH A SPECIAL FRIEND

I want to tell you about my friend. We only met this past summer, but we instantly hit it off. Have you ever met someone that you are just drawn to immediately? They feel as though they are your kindred spirit. You have a connection that you don’t have with anyone else you’ve known over the years. That’s what this friend is to me. She is my sunshine, my laughter, my inspiration, my hope. Her name is Sami. She is a twelve-year-old with autism. I work with Sami five days a week as her private therapist/teacher. Every day I look forward to walking into her house to find her waiting for me at the kitchen table. She always greets me the same way, “Hi Miss Karen.”                            Having a “normal” conversation with Sami is rather difficult, yet she and I communicate with very little misunderstanding. She is a beautiful young lady. She has a jet black braid down the middle of her back, light brown skin and dark brown eyes. She is tall with a slender build and a smile that melts your heart. She loves her i-pads and watches the same young children’s programs repeatedly. She will converse with you in a scripted format from a particular show she has seen. In addition to her i-pads, Sami loves modeling clay. She has ten to fifteen pound of clay on her clay table at any given time. She loves to reproduce the characters she watches from her programs. Each one has its name and very intricate details of hands, fingers, feet, toes, clothes and facial features. I have often mistaken them for professionally made toys you would purchase from the store, but Sami makes them. As I look at these adorable figures, I can’t help but think of how God made man with such perfection, such love. As with Sami’s characters, each is different. In Sami’s world, each character she makes has a name, identity, and story. There is no mistaking as to whom they belong to, and she is very protective of all of them.  One day when she wasn’t at her table, I picked up one of the characters and hid   it in my hand. When she came over to her table, she carefully took inventory. I am not kidding when I say she has a good ten pounds of clay on her table with 20-30 people, animals and objects she’s made. I honestly didn’t believe she’d notice one little figure missing. However, just like Jesus, when one sheep wanders off, he leaves the flock in hopes to find the lost one. Immediately she asks, “Where’s Mel? Where’s Mel? Mel is gone.” I open my hand and ask, “Is this Mel?” Quickly without hesitation, she grabs Mel from my hand and scolds me, “Miss Karen no take my Mel.” I hug her and apologize for taking her Mel. She lovingly gives Mel a kiss and gently places him in the exact spot in which he originally had been taken. She then turns to me and says, “It’s OK miss Karen. I forgive you now.” Tears pool in my eyes as I realize just how quickly she is to forgive someone doing ‘her wrong’ just like Jesus.

Sami brings a smile to my face no matter how tough of a morning I had with another student. She loves to please those who love her and without even trying will win over any person she comes in contact. God brought the two of us together for a purpose. I was hired to be her teacher, but in all honesty, she has taught me far more than I can ever teach her. She is my special angel.

What Does It Mean To Be Rich?

a2c31f5d28a6c7a1c7a3afc3effccb5c--stacks-of-money-cash-money

Unless your definition of “rich” matches God’s, you will never have enough.  Material wealth is an endless ladder and chasing it will lead to destruction.  By being involved in the wrong things, we lose our ability to be involved in the right ones. Satan uses earthly wealth to follow on his path of self destruction.  Pursuing Godly riches has a real and enteral reward.  A question was posed at church on this particular topic, ‘What does rich look like to you?’ Omitting any material wealth, I realized that my mother was right so many years ago, if you have your health, you have everything.  At the time I was only 16 years old and my health was just fine, I wanted a car. Some forty years later, I understand what she meant.  If you are in good health,  almost anything is doable. If we could have perfect health with no pain, no disease, no form of illness,  that would give us ultimate freedom.

I have a nephew who makes a very comfortable income. He lives in a very wealthy part of California, drives the top of the line vehicles, owns a beautiful home on a hill and travels from one end of the country to the other on a whim.  He’s done well for himself and he’s in his early 40’s.  He has two beautiful daughters that are spoiled beyond spoiled and are given whatever they ask for.  To look at him from the outside, you’d say he has it all, but he lacks one major component.  He’s an atheist. He also is in a miserable marriage that seems to be beyond reconcilable, but he goes through the motions and keeps the family together for the children as well as for himself.  His wife makes just as much money, if not more than he does. To dissolve the marriage would mean they would both financially have to change their lifestyles.  So, while his bank account may say he’s rich, he lacks the true riches from God.  He has no understanding of biblical truth or what comes after he leaves this world. For now, he has it all, and to him, that’s all that matters.

My riches are in heaven. I truly believe God will take care of my needs because he always does. I believe in an earlier blog I wrote about my experience with the woman who was homeless. I asked her if she knew Jesus and she lit up with great enthusiasm and exclaimed yes, she loved Jesus.  My next question was an obvious one, “Do you wonder why Jesus would not provide for your needs?  A place to live, food, a job?”  Her response was most humble.  She gave glory to God and pointed to the shelter. “I have a place to stay and food in my belly. It isn’t Jesus’s fault that I am a drug addict.  I put myself in this situation, but with His help and my faith, I will better myself.”  Several weeks later I ran into her again and she was excited to tell me she’d been clean for 30 days and that she just got a voucher for a studio apartment.  God always provides for our needs. She doesn’t have the material wealth my nephew enjoys, but unfortunately he doesn’t have the spiritual wealth, happiness  and faith this woman has.