By Mollie Bond -
When I was a 5 year old, I often watched my mom get in the car, put the keys in the ignition, and turn the key. One day, as my mom wrapped up her day as the church secretary, she handed me the keys to the jeep. “Here,” she said, “wait in the car.”
Feeling the weight of her trust in the keys she handed me, I pranced outside. Thinking I could do something that would make my mom happy, I got in the driver’s side, and just like my mom, put the keys in the ignition. Look at me! What would really make her happy? Trying to do everything just like she did: I turned the key.
I think I screamed. The steering wheel felt unnatural in my small hands. The manual transmission had been left in neutral. The jeep lurched past the sidewalk, down the little embankment, and straight into…this is where my memory stops.
The top level of our church had two wings held together by a narrow hallway with offices on the right, and the sanctuary on the left. The hallway area also enclosed the entry way to stairs leading to the lower level and overlooking the basketball court. The jeep hit right between the two wings, smack-dab at the top of those stairs. I took out the front wall.
The following Sunday, plastic covered the front of the church. One beam remained unbroken. If that board had broken, I would have traveled in the jeep down the stairs and out to the lower level.
Gripping the steering wheel and making sure I kept straight, kept that beam steady enough to hold.
PRAYER: God, I might try to take hold of the wheel and do what I think will make me happy. Instead, I’d like to learn how to keep going straight, listening to Your voice before I put the car in gear. I’m giving You room to speak to me today.
“Do not turn aside from any of the commands I give you today, to the right or to the left, following other gods and serving them” (Deuteronomy 28:14 NIV).
By Mollie Bond-
Sizzling, succulent, scrumptious. In other words, a Brazilian steakhouse. I winked at my friends Tammy, Jennifer, and Callie at the decadent restaurant as the servers slid out the fabric-covered chairs. Slightly drooling, we found our way to at the salad bar, which included raw fish, mozzarella carved from the wheel, and basil salad dressing. The girls waited for me to finish. At the last bite, the real fun began.
“Turn the cards!” Tammy said with much flair as she picked up the card next to her plate. We flipped the card to green. When we needed a moment, we flipped the card back to red. However, I saw most tables had green cards because of what came your way with a green card.
Meat sizzled past my ear. Foot-long skewers of meat came right to my table. The server slid the sharp knife through the meat while the tongs I held keep it from falling. Instantaneously, lamb, beef, chicken, spicy sausage, and filet mignon wrapped in bacon, were rushed to my side with one flip. Just as we started whispering in an un-lady-like manner about how a belt needed to be loosened, Callie said, “I can’t even taste what I’m eating anymore.” It reminded me of the verse in Proverbs that warns about eating just enough.
“What is this?” as her fork held up some type of meat. Defeated, the fork and the meat landed back on her plate. She’s right. The more we ate, the less appetizing meat sounded. Even bacon.
I wondered how many other times in life do I gorge myself? What about in my finances, or my quest for a better job, or my desire for more down time? Contentment, knowing when enough is enough, is so hard to come by in America; especially in American Brazilian steakhouses.
PRAYER: Father, I’m turning my card to green to You. Yet I am leaving it on red for that feeling of discontentment. I’m glad for the many good things in my life, and I’m determined to enjoy them fully.
“One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet” (Proverbs 27:7 NIV).
By Mollie Bond -
I’ve got a new five-year journal; it is a resolution of sorts. The journal isn’t a bit of space to write random thoughts. Rather, each page poses a question for each day of the year.
When you finish the first year, you start over, answering each question again, until all five years have been completed. Your answers to questions like, “What did you last eat?” and “What is your motivation?” or even more challenging: “When was the last time you were generous?” will reveal developments in your life and character.
As a follower of Jesus, I should give everything. But when was the last time I had given anything? Do time and effort count? I work hard for my boss. Does that count?
The question of generosity reminded me of the last time I did something unexpected. A lady in front of me at the grocery store didn’t have enough food stamps to cover the expense of baby formula. I added her formula to my bill, and wished her a good day. I wanted to take time to share the entire gospel. However, God held me back. Generosity is simple, random, and perhaps the loudest evangelist of all. In the end, I’m answering a question in a journal, and I realized that was the last time I was spontaneous in my generosity.
Jesus had moments when He had to keep moving, but He stopped to give compassion as in Matthew 15. The woman wouldn’t let up. Motherly instincts for her sick daughter prompted her persistence. As a Gentile, she might not have been at the top of the list of people Jesus needed to see that day. She followed Jesus to get what she wanted, knowing Jesus was on a mission. When He said his priorities laid elsewhere, the woman asked for a moment of compassion. Would He pick up the tab? Would He stop in his busy day to heal her daughter, even though she wasn’t on the list? He agreed. In a moment, Jesus made an exception in the spirit of compassion and generosity.
You may not have a journal to remind you to be spontaneous and generous, but Jesus gives us a spirit of compassion. Use it.
PRAYER: I may not be good at this generosity thing, but I know you will help me. Will you show me more how to keep my eyes open for moments of giving? I’m looking for the next opportunity.
“Then Jesus answered, ‘Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour” (Matthew 15:28 NIV).
By Mollie Bond -
Rubbing my hands, I cried in my idling car. Clinging to the dentist chair hurt my hands, and, coupled with the extra two hours for a cavity filling, I was ready for a good cry. The dentist had to re-do the same tooth three times because the filling kept popping off. Closing my eyes, I tried to dream of a far away place, and not think of the metallic taste and the “pinch” of more Novocain. Eventually, the dentist skipped the Novocain for lack of time, and the “pinch” became a sharp pain I felt in my gut.
No one likes to cry after visiting the dentist. I’ve had my share of poor experiences. The oral surgeon waited to remove my wisdom teeth because I couldn’t stop crying when they gave me the “knock-out” gas. I have what’s been deemed “slick teeth,” and it makes filling cavities fun. As fun as sitting for hours in an uncomfortable chair next to a jack-hammer in a construction zone. That’s the way it is. I have a problematic mouth.
My friend, Tina Crown, also has a problematic mouth. For years, she had one cavity. One little, teeny, tiny cavity. Not a big deal; no real problems. Tina and her husband, Todd, went to a new dentist. Neither felt surprised by the two root canals Todd needed. He often has work to be done. She went in next, expecting to hear glowing reports of her dental hygiene for the tenth year in a row. Instead, the dentist said, “Mrs. Crown, you also need a root canal.” The new dentist found a cavity under the old filling. The original cavity wasn’t completely removed and had festered for years, while she assumed her mouth was clean. Add one more crown to the Crowns’ dental budget.
What in life is problematic? What has been covered, and needs a deep cleaning? Let the Heavenly Dentist take a look around, even in those places that might hurt.
PRAYER: God, I think things are hunky-dory with my fillings, but I’m ready for a checkup. Does a hole exist underneath? Do I need to refine my daily cleaning routine? Will you take a look around? I’m ready for a root canal, even if it hurts. Thank You for wanting to help me be healthy and holy.
“My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes” (Jeremiah 16:17 NIV).
By Mollie Bond -
Stacy clamped onto her new adoptive mother and stared as the van gained speed down the mountainside. She didn’t cry as Colombia passed into a memory. She crusted into a stoic two-year-old. She didn’t say goodbye to her birth mother who dropped her off at the orphanage frequently. Then she would return again after a week or two. This time Stacy wouldn’t be at the orphanage.
Stacy couldn’t stop crying. After being in the United States six months, she stopped as quickly as she started. It was as if she put her anguish into a box, and hid the grief for fourteen years.
Now, a shattered Stacy sat with her parents on one side of the table; a representative from the adoption agency sat on the other side. The previous night she and her adoptive parents tried to determine what was best for Stacy’s illegitimate daughter. It came time to sign away her rights.
Stacy’s father began the meeting. “Fourteen years ago, a woman made a difficult choice. She gave her child something she couldn’t provide.” Stacy’s body went rigid with the overwhelming memories. She leaked a tear that became a rush of emotion. This anguish wasn’t satisfied with stuffing the emotions back into the depleted box. This pain refreshed her and her decision. In a moment, Stacy realized that her birth mother loved her, and that her mother did a very brave thing. She also saw the significance of her adopted parents, and their unconditional love because she now felt that same love for her new daughter. Healing began that day. Freedom brought relief from crying.
We too must grieve our former lives and realize we now live a better life under God’s care through adoption. We can welcome freedom and love as we see others being loved. Sometimes giving up circumstances or people frees us, and them, to enjoy a new situation.
Are there changes at work? Is a friend moving? Is there someone unforgiven in your life? Who in your life needs to be released? Give up treasured people so you can receive treasures from others. Hand them over to their adoptive Heavenly Father, who has a much better plan for them than you can provide.
PRAYER: Father, I’m glad You’ve taken me in as Your own. Help me to release those people and situations to You so that they can be taken into Your family. I grieve what I wanted, but know You will give something better in return. Thank You for being my Father.
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (Romans 8:14 NIV).