Neighbors Encourage, Help, and Love

Our Church Family Neighbors

The house echoed when Van and I talked. Furniture wrapped in blankets was the only thing left inside. Boxes filled the garage, all labeled with where they belonged once they arrived at our new home, 350 miles away. Everything we owned needed to go on the moving van in our driveway. A few minutes before 8:00 a.m., the first truck rolled up. Neighbors, our church family, coming to encourage, help, and show God’s love to us by loading our belongings and sending us on to our new adventure.

Men grabbed donuts and coffee and stood talking, catching up, laughing. These men belonged to Hillside Handymen Ministry, which Van helped with for several years. As always, before they did anything, they joined hands, bowed their heads, and prayed. Thanking God for Van and me, asking for God’s presence as they worked together, and for safety and smooth transitions as we relocated.

Neighbors

And then they began. Van’s brother, John, took charge of organizing the truck. And everyone else carried boxes, chairs, desks, file cabinets. A line of ants swarming, working together, and always talking and encouraging one another.

Neighbors        Neighbors         NeighborsNeighbors     Neighbors

It didn’t take long-45 minutes- until every box and piece of furniture sat on the truck. The house and garage completely empty. Almost reluctantly, knowing our time with these precious friends, our neighbors, was done, we closed the truck.

Neighbors   Neighbors

Lessons Learned from Our Church Neighbors

Over the years, I’ve seen these men in action. The difference they make in people’s lives. The Hillside Handymen truly reflect what Jesus said about being a good neighbor (Luke 10:25-37).

  • They show compassion whenever they see a need. Every quarter, they set aside one Saturday and go into the community to help single moms, widows, the elderly. Anyone who can’t afford or doesn’t have the ability to do home repairs on their own can ask for Hillside Handymen to help them. Each job is done with love and care. You couldn’t pay someone to do a better job than these men do. Individually, each man helps others whenever they can. Whether it’s lifting a box, repairing a sprinkler, replacing a garbage disposal, if a neighbor looks like they need help, these men step up and help others.
  • They encourage one another and build each other up through prayer, fellowship, and discipleship. Every work day starts with prayer for those they will serve and for each other. Before they go out into the community, there is a devotional focusing on God’s Word. Between work days, a prayer team prays for each man individually and the community. Many of the guys get together for breakfast or lunch during the week. They phone and text one another and encourage each other in a variety of ways when they aren’t working.
  • They have fun while they work. Laughter punctuated the morning. Whenever there was a lull in the work time, the guys talked about jobs, vacations, wives, children, and grandchildren. They teased each other.

Hillside Handymen hold a special place in our hearts. We will look back on the many times they touched our lives with joy and thanksgiving. And we pray we will be good neighbors to our new community, using the lessons we learned from these special men.

Linking with Five Minute Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith of Fire, Dance with Jesus, Fresh Market Friday, Counting My Blessings

 

New Everything: Leaving Familiar Behind

We arrived in Arizona yesterday; the first time in my life I won’t live in California. I left the familiar behind and moved into the uncharted water of new everything: streets and freeways, landscape, people. It’s exciting. . and a little scary.

God’s Presence in New Places

As I navigate a new state, city, neighborhood, house, and church, apprehension dissipates when I read God’s Words in Jeremiah 23:23, “Am I only a God of nearby,” declares the Lord, “and not a God of far away?” God travels with me from California to Arizona.

I know there will be plenty of times I feel lost. Literally. I have no sense of direction. GPS helps, but it will take me a long time to go anywhere with confidence.  And  questions rattle around in my heart: where do I fit in this new community? In this sea of new faces, who will be my friends? How do I serve in my church? What do I do with my time now I’m retired?

I moved to a new everything, but the most important thing-or rather, the most important person-God, went with me. “Who can hide in secret places, so that I cannot see them” declares the Lord. “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 23:24). He fills the heaven and the earth, whether I’m in California or Arizona.

God Moves in the New

Already I see  Him moving, preparing the way. His Word is written on the foundation of our home, verses we prayed in every room. So far, every bump in the road has been straightened out. Questions answered. Tasks completed. There’s been nothing to stress over.

But even if there was, God always knows what I’m thinking and feeling, rejoicing over and worried about. Psalm 139 reminds me:

Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is high; I cannot attain it.

New Brings Grateful Expectation

And so, I look forward with grateful expectation.
I start my first day in Arizona with Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;[a]
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

Do I Depend on God as Much as My iPhone?

Realizing How Much I Depend on My Phone

I lost my iPhone yesterday afternoon. Ouch. I left it in the restroom at Von’s. It took less than ten minutes for me to realize I didn’t have it, emptying my purse three times and patting my pockets over and over. As soon as I knew it was definitely gone, I raced back, muttering reassurances. It’s Ok, I told myself. A locked bathroom, needing the florist to use a code to open the door; it’ll be there.

But it wasn’t. “A lot of people were in there,” the florist told me. “Try the front desk.”

No phone turned in.

Even though I knew I used it in Von’s, after all, I used the Von’s app to check off my list while I shopped, I trotted down to Office Depot. Just in case.

No phone there either.

Suddenly I realized just how much I depend on my phone. My whole life is on there. Precious photos of family, contacts, calendar, email, my joy/gratitude journal, and on and on. I’m sure you know. Obviously, I couldn’t live without my phone.

Next stop, Verizon. I hoped maybe they could ping it, help me find it. Of course not. That only works on TV. “Nobody turns in iPhones,” Maria, my customer service rep said. “They’re too valuable.”

And so, I take a deep breath, and do the only thing I can. Buy a new phone. It takes a long time to set up a new phone and without it, I felt helpless. I couldn’t even call Van to tell him I’d be late.

Without my phone, I felt incomplete, inefficient, a little lost. I needed it to do daily business successfully. As I sat and waited for my new phone to be get ready, I couldn’t help but wonder, Do I depend on God as much as I do my phone? 

Depend on God

I can lose my phone, but I never have to be without God; He is always present and longs to be with me. But I can ignore Him. Turn Him to silent. I must choose to draw near to God. Before I do anything else, I need to set the tone of the day by spending time in His Word and talking to Him in prayer. I can’t leave Him at home, sitting on my desk, waiting for my return. He goes wherever I go, as long as I keep my eyes fixed on Him. Depend on Him.

 

There was nothing I could do to speed up the process of setting up my phone.  All I could do was wait for it to finish loading. Impatience added angst. Without my phone, I couldn’t do anything except wait. I didn’t want to, but I had no choice. I can’t hurry God, either. His timing is perfect, and I can’t rush Him. The only way to true peace is to completely depend on His perfect timing.

Linking today with Writer Wednesday, Woman to Woman, Porch Stories, Coffee for Your Heart, Chasing Community, Heart Encouragement, Tune-in Thursday, Salt and Light  Faith on Fire, Fresh Market Friday, Dance with Jesus

Uncharted Water: My True Comfort Zone

I love my comfort zone. Order and routine. Plans and check-off lists. I like to stick with what I know, and do things I’m confident I can accomplish successfully. Predictability is my friend.

Out of My Comfort Zone

Except staying there doesn’t seem to be part of God’s plan. He wants me to rely not on myself, but on Him. He plunges me into uncharted water. A vast sea of unfamiliar and unknown. Unwanted.

I see nothing but endless ocean, stretched in every direction. And I don’t know where to take the boat. I don’t even see any way to steer it. Nowhere is there a sail, motor, or pair of oars. It’s just me in the boat.

I respond with panic, fear and anxiety. I grumble and worry and whine.  Oh, I pray, but my prayer is a one-sided litany of I can’t and I don’t know how.

Jesus Is My Comfort Zone

Until finally, I listen. The Truth slowly penetrates my panic. I’m never alone in the boat. Jesus is my comfort zone. How can I worry about changes in my life, when He never changes?

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever Hebrews 13:8.

Why do I worry when I know He never leaves me? (Hebrews 13:5 and Deuteronomy 31:6)

Staying in My True Comfort Zone

I see God do amazing things when I stay in my true my comfort zone and let Him lead me, relying on His power and strength instead of my own. He transforms me into who He created me to become. The fruit of the Spirit blossoms and grows, ready to offer others.

To stay in my true comfort zone, I must pray with more than my fear and anxiety. The Psalms show a pattern of talking to God in the midst of uncharted water: express the problem honestly but never forget God’s faithfulness. Always praise Him, even in the midst of pain and the unknown. This week, I read Psalm 13, and while I don’t face the problems David did, his psalm provides a model of staying in my true comfort zone.

Linking with Five Minute Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fire, Dance with Jesus.

 

 

Need Help? Cast Your Burden on the Lord

I carry a burden. One of my own making. A distance in a relationship I treasure. Instead of holding my tongue, I said rude, unnecessary words, causing hurt. I’ve done it more than once.

And while I asked for and received forgiveness, the wound remains. “I need a break,” I hear. Guilt and remorse flood my heart and mind, threatening my peace and joy. I keep returning to what I could have, should have, done.

What can I, should I do now? I worry about it, fretting, certain nothing will ever be the same. I drive myself crazy.

In my current Bible study, Broken and Redeemed, I find the answer in Psalm 55:22, Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you. 

Cast My Burden

To cast my burden means to

  • remove
  • throw away
  • get rid of

And isn’t that exactly what I want to do?

My burden is heavy. It tires me. Makes me bone-weary. Irritated. Worried. My entire countenance shows that I carry a burden. I want to throw it away, get rid of it forever. I want to separate it from me as far as the east is from the west.

But no matter what I do, the burden returns. Even when I try to put it out of my mind with a trip to the beach, losing myself in a book, or buying new shoes, it follows, robbing me of the peace and joy I seek.

Since I can’t rid myself of my burden, I long for someone to help me. Relieve the stress, fear, restless spirit my burden causes me.

Who can I share this burden with? Where can I go for help?

The Lord. He willingly takes my burden, but I must be willing to give it to Him. Cast it not just anywhere, but to Him.

But He does more than remove my burden.

Need Help? Cast Your Burden on the Lord
He Sustains Me

Sustain means He

  • comforts
  • helps
  •  assists
  •  encourages
  •  supports
  • gives strength to
  • buoys up
  • carries
  • heartens

The burden causes sorrow, regret, fear, confusion. God understands my feelings, and He comforts me. I can bring my burden to Him with tears and remorse, and God offers patience, love, and mercy. He reminds me of His faithfulness and goodness in past troubles and promises He continues to work for my good.

When I don’t know what to do next, God helps me. He gives the words to say to the one I hurt. If I don’t know how or when to apologize, He provides the humility, the words, even the right tone of voice. And once I’ve done my part, He gives me patience to wait.

I may wonder how I can possibly go back into a difficult situation, and He encourages me by reminding I am a daughter of the King, beloved, forgiven. Free. The strength I need to take the first step and the next one comes from God.

At times, I feel the waves may crash over me, keeping me under the water until I drown. Self-incrimination. Self-doubt. God buoys me up, keeping me safe. He carries me back to the shore and restores me, first to Himself, and then to others.

While I wait on God to work in my heart and the heart of the one I hurt, He buoys me up, heartens me with His promises. His love. His care.

Let Him sustain you. Cast your burden on the Lord. He will sustain you.

Linking this week with Testimony Tuesday, #tellhisstory, Coffee for Your Heart, #heartencouragementthursday.