By Mary Sefzik –
Mosquitos—one of the most annoying summertime pests. They can make a meal off of you before you have time to devour your slice of juicy watermelon. By the end of the evening your legs are covered with those tell-tale itchy welts—summertime souvenirs. The constant urge to scratch becomes all-consuming. The more you scratch the hotter and redder those bites become. You question whether an evening outside was worth the itchy aftermath.
Some people are like mosquitos. They lite, they bite, and they leave you to deal with the after effects. They barge into your life uninvited spouting a slew of stinging remarks.
“You’ll never get it right.”
“That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard.”
“You can’t do this job.”
Then they leave and go about the rest of their day as if nothing ever happened. But you are left with a big red welt of emotional hurt—damaged pride, less confidence in your abilities, fear of trying something new because that stinging reminder makes you believe you’ll just fail. Again.
You may go about the rest of your day with a smile on your face but the red welt from the mosquito encounter lingers just below the surface. The temptation to scratch the bite by replaying the venomous comments in your mind is all-consuming. The next time you encounter that person you’re ready. When they bite, you swat back with unkind words of your own.
How should you handle the mosquito people in your life? Like the insects, they are unavoidable. Just as you can protect yourself from the insect variety by wearing bug repellent, there are some methods you can use to lessen the sting of the bites from the people variety.
When a mosquito person is fast approaching instead of getting your swatting hand ready, shield yourself from the stings by saying a quick prayer. “Lord, control my tongue and help me take the good to heart and not let the bad ruin my day.”
After the encounter, doctor the sting by quoting scripture. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23 NIV), or “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
Keep in mind God has a plan for every creature He creates—even the mosquitos.
Prayer: Be Lord of my tongue today and help my words be constructive instead of stinging. Teach me to handle criticism in a way which honors You.
By Mary Sefzik –
In my Father’s house are many mansions…. I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2 KJV).
A perfect place prepared especially for me. What a welcomed thought. As a person with a disability, I long to have a house created with my specific needs in mind. A place where I feel at home, no adaptations necessary.
I am in the process of moving into my first home and have an ever-growing list of things which need to be adapted so I can live comfortably and safely in my new environment. Put braille labels on the thermostat, microwave, dishwasher and oven. Have a security system installed. Learn multiple routes into and out of my home. The list seems endless, and I wish I could just snap my fingers and have the home of my dreams.
God, the creator of all architects is building a home for me beyond my imagination. It will truly be move-in ready—no leaky faucets to replace, utilities to activate or mountains of paperwork to sign.
The pride of acquiring a new earthly home is only a glimpse of what I’ll experience when I see my new heavenly home. My list of projects will be shorter and much more enjoyable—host a dinner party for my favorite historical figures or spend an evening singing praises to my Heavenly Father with musicians I admire.
Just as my earthly father supervises the repairs being made to my new town home, I picture my Father in Heaven lovingly crafting my eternal dwelling place. The closing date is unknown but the closing costs were paid in full when I accepted Christ’s death as payment for my sin, giving me the free gift of eternal life.
Heavenly Father, Thank you for the gift of my homes—both earthly and eternal. Help me rejoice in each phase of the moving process and leave all the frustrating loose ends in Your capable hands.
By Mary Sefzik –
“When did you leave for work?” I could tell by the tone of Mom’s voice something wasn’t right. “Our house has been burglarized.”
My heart skipped a beat. Mom said my bedroom had been trashed. I couldn’t concentrate on work that day. The list of possible missing items grew longer by the minute. My debit card, a collection of gift cards, my external hard drive filled with personal files. Most of my afternoon was spent on the phone—canceling my debit card and giving Mom more items to add to the list of possible stolen goods.
That evening I took a deep breath and sifted through the mess. My Christmas and birthday money from Grandma—five hundred dollars. Gone. If only that wallet could tell me whose hands had rifled through its pockets. Whew. My debit card was safe—tucked away in one of the back zipper pockets. All my gift cards were accounted for and my computer and external drive were untouched.
As I put my room back in order I remembered Jesus’s command to His disciples in the Gospel of Matthew. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth where moth and rust, destroy and where thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19 NIV).
The loss of money angered me, but I was thankful God had spared a much greater treasure—my Mom. When she walked into the house she was greeted by the sight of a teenage boy standing on her bed with a tire tool in his hand. They had locked eyes. Mom, one of the gentlest people I know, hollered, “Get out of my house.” She must have sounded like she meant business because the boy jumped off the bed and dashed out of the house. I hope this experience served as a warning for that boy. His next theft could land him in jail.
This harsh life experience reminded me earthly treasures can be wiped out in a moment, but heavenly riches last forever. Just as we protect our earthly belongings with a security system we must protect our souls with the secure seal of the Holy Spirit. “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:12-13 NIV).
By Mary Sefzik –
I was a college student thrilled to have landed a part-time job as a braille textbook proofreader at Visual Aide Volunteers in Garland, Texas. I couldn’t believe I was actually getting paid to do something I enjoyed—reading.
My fingers skimmed across the page. “They forgot the period again,” I said.
“Good catch,” my boss complimented. A long-forgotten name flashed through my mind—Eileen, my first braille teacher.
Wouldn’t she be proud if she could see me now. I wanted to find my soft-spoken silver-haired teacher and thank her for giving me the tools I needed to excel at my first job.
I e-mailed another teacher to see if he knew anything about Eileen. He told me he had recently seen her at a local restaurant. He included a phone number and urged me to contact her.
My heart raced, and my hand shook as I dialed the number. What am I doing? I wondered. This lady must be in her nineties, and I haven’t talked to her in years. Will she even remember me?
“What do I have to lose?” I argued with myself. The worst thing that can happen is I dial a wrong number or get hung up on. I’ll never know unless I try.
“Hello?” a soft voice answered after the third ring.
“Hello, my name is Mary Sefzik, and I am trying to reach Eileen Burke.”
“This is Eileen. Who are you, and where are you calling from?”
I tried again. “My name is Mary Ann Sefzik. I was one of your pre-school students at Dallas Services for Visually Impaired Children.”
“Oh, honey, I retired from there in 1991—many years ago.”
“I graduated from Dallas Services in 1989 when I was six years old,” I said, hoping to fill in her mental blanks.
“Oh my, Mary Ann. I can’t believe this. How are you? Where are you? What are you doing now?”
I told her about attending college, learning Braille music, and working as a proofreader—all things her teaching had helped bring about.
“I plan to graduate from college soon and wonder what God has in store for me. I wish I could see the future,” I said.
“God has something out there for you,” Eileen assured me, “and it will come one day, out of the blue, when you least expect it.”
Eileen attended my graduation party several months later and I was thankful to find she was exactly the way I remembered her. As she held my hand, I remembered those same gentle hands teaching me how to dial a telephone. I loved to hear her lilting northeastern accent. She could always make me laugh.
“I can’t believe you’re really here,” I said as we clung together in a tight embrace.
“You little rascal,” she said in her sweet, familiar way. “Do you remember the first sentence you wrote for me?”
Once again I was a shy six-year-old basking in the praise of a teacher I adored. “I can go,” I answered.
“You’re right. You said ‘I can go,’ and you went!”
I was amazed at how God chose to use a boss’s compliment and a simple phone call to bring about this special reunion. This experience reminded me that God’s blessings often come out of the blue, when we least expect them.
By Mary Sefzik –
Some people come into our lives and quickly go, but others leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. I met such a person my freshman year of high school. I heard about Melissa Mann through a mutual friend and was excited when my Braille teacher, Linda, arranged for us to meet.
Melissa greeted me with a big hug. “I’m so happy to meet you.” Her voice always sounded as if she were smiling.
I felt drawn to this positive, bubbly, blind lady who had overcome so many obstacles: diabetes, two kidney transplants, and multiple heart stints.
Melissa was a shining witness for Christ and the story of her kidney transplant is a testimony in itself. She recounted the day the doctor examined her chart and slammed the door in frustration. He discovered her kidneys were functioning at only eight percent. She should have been on dialysis much earlier. Almost 16 months later her doctor delivered more bad news. Her heart had swollen. Without a new kidney she had six weeks to live. Then a miracle happened. Two small kidneys belonging to a three-year-old child were available. Those kidneys, which Melissa affectionately named, Bert and Ernie, gave her nearly twenty years of life.
Melissa never met a stranger. One evening we were so engrossed in our dinner conversation the waiter couldn’t get a word in edgewise. When Melissa realized he was ready to take our order she said, “I’m Melissa and this is Mary. We’re two blind women who love to talk so if you have something to say just jump right in and say it. We won’t mind.”
Her joy always encouraged me. “Melissa,” I confided one day. “I’m so tired of waiting. I’ve been looking for a job for a year and a half.”
“Mary, at times like these you need to hang on to God. Hold on tight now, and give Him the reins to your life. He promises in His Word that He will never leave us or forsake us.” Tears stung my eyes as she shared this gem of truth.
“Do you know what keeps me going through all of this?” she continued. “As long as Jesus is in my life, everything’s going to be all right. St. Paul says it doesn’t matter whether I live or die because I’ll be with Jesus whatever happens. And those of us who are believers, we’ll be together forever. Sure that time when we’re apart will be tough. We’ll miss each other, but honey, we’ll all be together forever in the end.”
Melissa is with her Savior now enjoying a new glorified body. I know I will see her again in heaven. Until then I will strive to leave my own set of Christ-honoring footprints on the lives of those around me.