By Makenzie Allen –
Shopping can be a dangerous thing for all of us. Whether it’s at the mall or in Best Buy, money soon vanishes from our pocket and now resides in the nearest cash register. I admit it; the farm supply store in the spring is what gets me. Dozens of chicks and ducklings are just begging me to take them home. Last spring I got suckered into buying two ducklings. This year I decided to buy five bantam chicks.
Walking downstairs to my room, I peer over the side of my makeshift chicken home. Alarmed, I see blood on the smallest chicken’s back and immediately turn a glare towards the biggest, scrappiest chicken in the bunch. Sure enough, not moments later the larger chick turns towards the runt and picks at it’s bloody back. My amateur instincts guide me towards the nearest google search engine, and I am quickly scanning blog posts for how to take care of my chick’s wound. After researching, I learn that if chickens see blood on a companion they will peck mercilessly at the raw skin. With no special supplies, I run back into my room and lift the runt up. Taking makeup from my bag, I gently apply concealer and some brown eye shadow to my chick’s back. With the blood hidden, the chicks all forget the wound and go back to pecking the wood shavings covering the ground.
Turning my teary eyes to the gymnasium floor, I walk self-consciously towards my waiting basketball team. The hurts I had shoved way down inside came skyrocketing out all in those few moments. It was the night marking an end to my basketball season and as all of the girls on my team lined up waiting to be called out by name, my name somehow was forgotten. Embarrassment clouded me as I waited minutes that seemed like hours for my name to be called and my turn to run out and accept a t-shirt and hug from my coach. As I meet my basketball team it takes everything in me to push out an “It’s okay that you forgot” and a smile.
After my makeup party with the chicks, it struck me how relevant to life that scenario really is. Just as chickens won’t stop pecking at an open wound, experiences continue to scrape at the secret hurts in our hearts. After a season of keeping the bench warm at my basketball games, I tried to suppress feelings of inadequacy yet could not because the pecking would not cease. The night of my teams closing ceremony was an extra large peck, but all the little ones that I brought on myself kept the wound fresh and ready to be struck that night. And I wonder, how do you heal fast enough to erase the blood and ward off the pecking?
It has been a year since I waited on the sidelines for my name to be called and to be recognized as part of a team. It has been fifteen years however, since I have been pulled away from the sidelines and into the body of Christ. God is the only one who can heal feelings of inadequacy, doubts of being loved, times of loneliness, and wounds of the past.
“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3 (KJV) Someone once said that Jesus is the only one who will have scars in Heaven. He will and we won’t because only God can cover our bleeding wounds with Jesus’s blood, and heal a wounded heart.
By Diane Mayfield –
I’m constantly learning new spiritual lessons from my grandchildren. I don’t know why I’m amazed, except that I thought I’d learned all I could learn from my own children. Grandchildren either remind me of truth I’d forgotten, or I’m just now learning. Either way, I’m in awe.
My daughter just had her first child, a baby girl, so I have a newborn in my family. When newborns come into your family, they are beautiful in all their tininess and baldness. Their noses are often too big for their faces, and they are often all scrunched up like old men. Others often don’t see the beauty that you do. I’m sure my precious new granddaughter looks the same to an outsider but not to me.
Her tiny hands and toes are a marvel to me. I get lost in her big, deep-blue eyes, and that “too big nose” reminds me of my daughter’s nose when she was a newborn. Of course, it’s gorgeous to me. I love the way she moves her hands and legs with no real intention. Her communication skills are limited to wailing at the top of her tiny lungs at times, but I’m so grateful she makes her voice heard. I really could simply stare at her for hours.
When I hold her, I think of another newborn. The One who was The Word that “…became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14 NIV.)” When He was born, He, too, was totally dependent, like my granddaughter, except He was also God. He allowed mere mortals and sinners to nurture, feed and clothe Him. He cried for his every need. His bodily functions were just like every other tiny, dependent human being. He could not even hold His head up without the help of others.
I look into the face of my newborn granddaughter and I try to imagine what it was like for Mary to hold and care for the Son of God. I cannot really imagine what she felt or whom she was seeing in her totally dependent son. It had to be a little hard for her. What she saw and experienced just didn’t match up, and yet it was true and she knew it.
Wow, there are so many lessons for me from this tiny person. First of all, I am humbled that my God became like this newborn babe for me and for you, just to grow up and give His life that you and I might live with Him for all eternity. That truth never ceases to amaze me. Then, to think of Mary holding a totally dependent, little baby that she knew was God, and yet dependent on her reminds me that what I’m experiencing at times is not the total story. Truth is in the Word, what God says is true. What I see or feel does not tell it all. It has to be consistent with God’s Word and His higher and greater purposes. I often don’t see that until years later.
I’m so grateful for this precious new life in my family. I’m grateful for all three of my grandchildren. Not only for the joy and delight they bring to me but also for the spiritual truths that their existence reinforces for me once again. They truly are the richest of blessings.
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 Diane Mayfield –
I just returned from a fabulous trip to Maui, Hawaii, with my husband Dave. We had not been back there for thirty-seven years. This trip was our honeymoon do-over. It was definitely better than the first one.
Thirty-seven years ago Dave and I landed in Honolulu, Hawaii, with no reservations for a two-week Hawaiian adventure. Dave’s uncle had encouraged traveling without reservations saying that you didn’t really need them. That idea was quickly crushed when we landed at the airport and had no clue where to go from there. We drove in our rental car to a Burger Hut for lunch and began to look up hotels in the phone book of a pay phone. Does anyone remember those?
We found a hotel on the beach with a vacancy. When we arrived, however, the bellman proceeded to take us to a room with twin beds. My young husband didn’t care about the twin beds; he was just ready to be in a room. This new bride had more romantic ideas, so I said, “no, I want one bed, please.” That was the beginning of our Hawaiian adventure. After that, we did meet with the hotel concierge and planned out our next two weeks in the islands. We lugged four big bags and golf clubs on small planes to three other islands before heading home.
We only knew each other for three months before we were engaged and then three months later we married. Communication was not down to a science yet. In fact, Dave was sure he’d made a mistake when we had our first conflict ever. He was out hitting golf balls early in the morning when this still starry-eyed young bride woke up to snuggle. When he returned to the room, he did not understand why I was upset. Reality set in.
Thirty-seven years later I am happy to report that we have really learned some things. I’m not sure communication is a science, yet, but we do know how to do it with authenticity and love. This trip no golf clubs were taken. I really wanted him to take them, though. For him, they were part of the wrong focus on a honeymoon. We stayed on one island, the beautiful island of Maui, where we had reservations way in advance.
Most importantly this time, our focus was on being with each other, apart and together. We gave each other freedom to enjoy our different interests. I took power walks while Dave read on the porch. I shopped, and he paid for it. We had leisurely breakfasts at the ocean-side restaurant, sat on the beach and waited for the whales to jump, shared what we were each reading and enjoyed each evening’s sunset. He indulged me in a luau that after the third course of a five -course dinner with the masses, we both decided we had enough and left. Back in our room, we each dived into a Hagan Daz ice cream bar, one of our favorite beach treats.
As we reflected on our past years together, we both recognized that we had grown spiritually, emotionally and psychologically. That to us is a testimony to the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives and our relationship. Without Him, we could not have made it.
So, the Honeymoon Do-Over was quite a success. We came home refreshed (except for the jet lag upon landing) and looking forward to more years together or, at least, more trips to Maui for honeymoon do-overs.
By Makenzie Allen-
Opal is a precious stone made from silica, taken mostly from sandstone, and water. This solution runs along cracks and crevices where the water then evaporates and the silica hardens. If repeated many times, this process forms an opal.
I was given an opal ring a few weeks ago from my grandma. It seems that the colors held inside that stone are endless. One moment I will see an electric green and the next it will be a rosy pink. Recently I was marveling at how vibrant it was when my dad gave the best description, “It’s as if there is a light inside the stone causing it to glow like that.” Out of my mouth popped the response; “It reminds me of us as Christians.”
Again and again the Bible establishes that God is light. I can’t even fathom what it would be like to have Him shine fully in me the way an opal shines. He is there all right, a light inside my heart and soul. The problem is not His absence of light, but the overabundant presence of myself. My flesh covers the light inside of me, and I long for those rays to break free. One of my biggest prayers is that I would forget my flesh and remember to glorify God in all things. I want to be transparent so that God can be apparent.
My brother leans forward eagerly, watching as I unwrap his gift. A small jewelry box is revealed, but I am no closer to guessing the contents. I lift the lid, exposing a pair of earrings inlaid with opal stones. Raising my face to share a smile with him, I see his grin and the addition of a dimple. My little brother has the gift of giving. When he exercises that gift, the joy and love of God shines.
Sitting beside my not-so-small brother, I listen as he tells of his desire to preserve a pure mind. It’s never easy striving to live God’s way in a world bent opposite, but my brother is growing into a young man who sees the importance. He has the gift of perseverance. As he uses this gift, the purity and deliberateness of God radiates. God has given us all a gift that we can use to glorify Him. In using our God-given talents we have the opportunity to be a beacon of God’s light.
An opal is made from silica and water, not much, yet multi-colored lights burst throughout its surface; potentially opening blind eyes to see the Creator. A Christian is made from a sinner, saved by a loving God, redeemed every day by the blood of the Lamb. The construction of a Christian has immensely greater components than the construction of an opal, which can only mean one thing; we have all that is necessary to trump an opal’s heavenly light and bring glory to our loving King.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (KJV)