Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Stand Amazed

Tuesday's are my favorite. For three years, every Tuesday night I was involved in a women's bible study at a camp. Every other Tuesday night a group of men were meeting at our house for prayer and bible study. Very seldom was I home when all the men converged on our basement.
Then God took a different turn with the women's bible study and so now I am home every other Tuesday night while the men meet here. I have been blessed over and over and over again in so many ways by what I experience on those Tuesday nights.

Tonight was no different. The front porch light was off and most of the men enter through the garage. As I sat in the office, I heard footsteps on the porch and a knock at the door. Since the 'regulars' know to walk in the garage and find their way around, I figured this might be someone new.

I went out to the living room, opened the front door and I don't know who was more shocked me or them. They were expecting to come to a men's bible study and here was some woman answering the door and not a man to be seen. (They were in the basement - remember?) My shock was that these two young men, with bibles in hand, couldn't have been more than 25 and I am guessing younger.

Honestly, I hate to admit this, but I thought they were lost. They were the youngest men I have seen come to bible study at our house. As a good hostess, I offered them coffee and they just kind of looked at me funny. I'm not used to that reaction to an offer for coffee, but once I got over myself I showed them to the basement.

Then I think I hummed right out loud the song "I Stand Amazed". It might not have sounded like that to an untrained ear, but Jesus knew. He knows what tune I'm humming even if it really sounds like a poor dog yelping. It's the heart that counts and my heart was beltin' out a tune of joy and praise.

Because I truly do stand amazed at how God works. I pray that those two young men bring their friends and that they shed new light into the lives of those men who aren't, well, in their 20's anymore. And I pray that those more mature fellas feed into those young men and encourage them in their walk with the Lord.

There is much to be gained when more than one generation of godly men gather together to seek after the LORD. Much to be gained when they bow before God in prayer.

As an interesting side note. Charles H. Gabriel, 1856 - 1932, wrote the original version of this song. In his biography, it says that "Settlers in that area (Iowa) often gathered in the Gabriel home for singing sessions and fellowship." My husband and I might not ever write songs, but we believe in gathering often in our home for fellowship. And we invite people who can sing. It's good for some things to stay the same.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Consider the Homeless

All day today it seemed that my thoughts and prayers kept returning to those who are homeless. I'm not exactly sure why, but I know that God kept laying it on my heart to pray for them today. And so I did. I have friends who have been homeless. They are without question some of my favorite people in my life. Their lives are rich in many ways that someone who has never been homeless would never know. I am blessed to call them my friend.

On my way to and from work every day I drive past two houses not far from us that sit empty. One I am not really sure why it is vacant and the other one most likely a foreclosure based on the way it was left. These houses have also been sitting empty for quite awhile now with no "for sale" signs in the front yard. I don't know what happened in either case. But then I started wondering, what a difference it might make if all those houses that have been sitting empty for so long could be used to house all the people who have been homeless in the last year. Just wondering.

This Bloomberg report stated the following:

"About 18.9 million homes in the U.S. stood empty during the second quarter as surging foreclosures helped push ownership to the lowest level in a decade."

Fox news reported this:

"Overall, 1.56 million people spent at least one night in emergency shelters or transitional housing, the report said. One-third of those individuals were part of a homeless family.

Volunteers counted 643,000 homeless people, sheltered and on the streets, during one given night in January 2009, the report said."

It seems to me there a lot more vacant homes than there are homeless people. I know there are many more factors to consider, but sometimes I get tired of rationalizing away hope. Sometimes it's just good to consider the homeless and consider how we might make things different.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The $5 Giving Challenge

For the last several weeks I keep hearing "be generous", "be generous", "be generous". God just seems to be telling me the same thing over and over and over. The Scriptures are full of commands and instructions on being generous. Somehow I have felt as though God has a very specific purpose in pushing me to be generous beyond our regular tithes and offerings. As I have continued to seek God's instruction as to what He desires, there is something that has come to mind that I am really excited about.

After many months of couponing, sales, stockpiling and playing the drug-store game, my cupboards are overflowing. There are bags of items waiting to go to the homeless shelter this week. There are items bagged and ready to give to a Christian pregnancy program for new moms. We regularly give out of our cupboards to others as well.

So this week I am going to start something new: "The $5.00 Challenge". The goal is to take $5.00 and with the drug-store sales, Kroger deals and coupons get as much food or other items as I can to donate to food banks, homeless shelters or others. In other words, the challenge is to see how much I can get for my $5.00 by spending wisely and taking advantage of sales and coupons.

So far I have purchased: (2) full size Secret deodorants; (1) Oil of Olay Quench Body Wash 23.6 oz; (1) Oil of Olay Ultra Moisture Lotion 11.8 oz; (4) cans of Campbell's Select Harvest Healthy Request Soup - 18.6 oz each; and (1) can of sliced peaches. Total spent: $3.07

Krogers is having some amazing sales this week so I will most likely grab more groceries that are on sale. I can get another 4 boxes of name brand cereal for $1.96 total which would finish out the $5.00. For the $5.00 invested, I was able to purchase $29.49 worth of name brand products.

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each many should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Just doing what I love so that others might benefit and giving all the glory to God.

Blessings to you