Merry Halloween??!!

Tues., Oct. 31, 2017

Job 14:2– Like a flower, we bloom, then wither, flee like a shadow and don’t last.  

My Christmas cactus forgot to look at the calendar. Today is Halloween … and it’s blooming, almost two months early. Seriously?

Actually, this Christmas cactus is my Mom’s plant. This spring, we cleaned out my Mom’s apartment when she moved permanently into a nursing home. My sister, Debbie, and I were cleaning out the last things. There was Mom’s Christmas cactus. For years, and I mean years, my Mom has had a Christmas cactus. We felt like someone should keep it. Debbie voted for me.

I brought it home and put it outside in our screened in porch. Honestly, I haven’t taken very good care of it. I watered it once a week. That was it. Until today. We had a hard frost on Saturday night. All the annuals froze except the geraniums. This afternoon, I remembered the Christmas cactus. Did it make it? As I walked towards the porch, I justified that it was in a more protected area. Maybe, just maybe, it would be fine.

What I wasn’t prepared for were the many pretty fuchsia pink blossoms spilling over the edge of the pot. Not wanting to take any chances on something happening to the plant, I quickly brought it inside.

I have another Christmas cactus. This one was given to me last year at Christmas by a lovely couple from church. It isn’t blooming. With a closer inspection, I unearthed several dead branches and fallen leaves. I walked away with a handful of dead parts. Apparently, the outside plant enjoyed its environment much more than the inside version.

Plants can be beautiful, refreshing and brighten up a space quickly. When the plant isn’t doing well, it can be a bummer. When it is not doing well, it quickly fades. Most plants do not consistently bloom. Overnight, they can go from gorgeous blooms to droopy flowers.

Our spiritual lives are much the same. One day, we can feel so very close to God: inspired by God and alive with God. If we miss some alone time with God, fail to see blessings in our lives or get caught up in the busy-ness of live, God suddenly feels like a long-lost relative rather than a close friend with whom we text or chat with daily.

Like all relationships, our relationship with God is never stagnant. Either we are moving closer to God or stepping back. There are simply going to be times when we don’t feel as close to God. This is a fact. Yet, are we doing the things we can to nurture our relationship with God? Or are we more like the abandoned cactus that barely received a drink of water once a week?

Like my Mom’s Christmas cactus, we can bloom with less attention. For most people, additional nurturing is needed. What is one thing you can do this week to water your spiritual soul? To draw yourself back towards the One who created you?

My thoughts have turned towards keeping Mom’s cactus alive and blooming. Until Christmas? Probably not so much. Rather, I will let it wish you all a Merry Halloween!

Lord God – thanks for putting inside each one of us the opportunity to be a beautiful person. Sometimes we bloom and make life around us brighter and more beautiful. Other times, we are more like a fading flower. Thank you for being patient with us. May our connection with you keep us glorious for your kingdom. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Small Things = Great Love

4039-Mother-Teresa-Quote-Not-all-of-us-can-do-great-things-But-we-canTues., Oct. 24, 2017

Matthew 25:21 – Jesus said, “The master answered, ‘You did right. You are a good servant who can be trusted. You did well with that small amount of money. So I will let you care for much greater things. Come and share my happiness with me.’”

I love this Mother Theresa quote: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

I often witness human beings who take this quote seriously. Let me share a recent example.

In 1997-98, I served overseas for a school year as a missionary. For my “real” job, I taught English at a state university in the former Soviet Union country of Kazakstan. One of the students I taught was a young lady named Assel.

While in Kazakstan, I invited Assel to worship with me at a Christian church. It was the first time she had ever been to a Christian worship service. Initially, she went because it gave her additional opportunities to speak English. She chose to go back and eventually, discovered who God is in her life. Before I left Kazakstan, Assel felt a strange warming in her heart … and knew it was God.

Assel’s family consider themselves Muslim, although they do not actively practice. Sharing her Christian faith was a huge risk. Initially, she was trying to figure out who God was to her.

Based on her English skills, Assel landed a job with a western company. She traveled and expand her job and English skills. Her spiritual journey went on a roller coaster ride the next few years. Eventually, she met a Christian man who was raised in South Africa and they married.

Today, Assel’s Christian faith is a defining part of her life. She and her husband live in Kazakstan and are involved in a local Christian church. Recently, Assel came to the United States for a conference. After the conference, she spent a few days with Rick and me. It was great to reconnect. Assel shared the struggles of their local Christian church. Wages for local Kazak workers continue to be very low. The government is more skeptical of Christian churches than when I was there. Assel and her husband support their local church as much as possible.

Before taking Assel to the airport, we stopped at one of the churches I serve. On Fridays during the school year, Blessings in a Backpack bags are assembled here. These are food bags given to students on Fridays, so they have food for the weekend. As we walked by where the food is stored, I shared with her information about the program.

A few steps later, Assel opened her purse and pulled out $100 from her wallet. She wanted to donate to our little Blessings program. I am thinking of the ways these funds could be used in her church. As I shared this, Assel knew this was true. Yet, she insisted on supporting our local food program. She wanted to feed one student during this school year, which equals $100. I was blown away by her insistence to help our Blessings program.

Last Sunday, we had “Pay It Forward Sunday.” We hand out envelopes with money inside during worship. People are instructed to take the money, a loan from God, and invest it. The idea is to use these funds and bless someone else. If people want to add more funds to the seed money, they can. They can’t give the money back to the church. They are encouraged to fill out the post card in the envelope and share how they invested these funds.

The envelopes do not include huge sums of money. Yet, the small amount of money loaned from God usually increases by at least five times. It is amazing how these small gifts suddenly become larger gifts that express God’s love for those in need in simply amazing ways.

Assel accomplished her Pay It Forward ministry without any initial seed money. She took it upon herself to share a small gift with a needy program.

How about you? What is a small thing you can do with great love this week?

Almighty God – sometimes we expect someone else to step in and make a difference. Why? Because we think we don’t have enough resources. Or our gifts aren’t important enough. What is amazing is that when we can release our gifts into your kingdom, you take them and far exceed our expectations. When you bring an opportunity to do a small thing this week to express great love, please help us accept this opportunity. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who also enjoy it.

If you have enjoyed this blog, please pass it along to someone else who also enjoy it.