The Guys in the Yellow Shirts

She walked outside early that day to get a head start on the heat. There was a lot to do – way more than she or her husband was capable of doing in a day. And before long the temperature would be in the high 80’s making it even harder to work.

She looked at her yard.

 

Several large trees had been blown down, roots pulled up out of the ground leaving large holes. Other trees with broken trunks were lying across the sidewalk. A set of bare trees with broken branches were leaning towards their neighbor’s house. There were many large branches, wooden fence boards, and shingles scattered across the yard. And leaves everywhere!

She looked at her tools. One hand saw. One large pair of shears. One smaller hand shears for pruning. One wheelbarrow. A rake. And a shovel.

How in the world would these simple tools help them clear the huge mess? Sighing with resolve, she knew if she didn’t get started, the mess would only get worse as the grass grew to cover shingles and nails and other potentially dangerous things. She decided to start with the fence boards. They wouldn’t need any tools and she could drag them to the street. At least most of them. Some were still attached in large sections and would need to be cut into smaller pieces before she could move them.

As she dragged the fence pieces, her husband got the hand saw and began sawing the fallen branches into more manageable sizes, pulling them to the street and tossing them into a separate pile to cooperate with the city’s request to keep the debris sorted for easier removal later.

They worked in silence for about an hour, then her husband called to her. “Can you come help?”

“What do you need?” she called back as she stopped dragging a board to wipe the sweat from her face.

“Help me get the rest of this branch to the street.”

She carefully walked over to him, looked at the branch,

“You think we can move this?”

“I think so.”

“OK. Let’s try.”

They each got a good hand hold on the branch and began dragging it. Or at least attempted to. The branch was heavier than they thought and no matter how hard they strained, they could only move it an inch or two at a time.

“Could you use some help?” came a man’s voice from the direction of the street.

They looked up, startled, to see a man in a yellow shirt standing outside a car parked next to their growing pile of debris, smiling at them. On his shirt were the words “Helping Hands”.

“We sure could,” answered her husband. “Do you have a chain saw?”

“We have lots of chain saws.”

“We?”

“Yeah,” the man answered, pointing to a long line of cars behind his. “We’re all from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we’re here to help.”

She stared in disbelief. There must have been at least half a dozen cars and trucks, all filled with people in yellow shirts who were jumping out, picking up a variety of tools, and heading for her yard.

They quickly got to work sawing and dragging and chopping. She watched for a little while then went inside to hide her tears but continued to watch them work from an upstairs window. She was awed at their efficiency and cheerfulness as they worked.

IMG_20181021_095627110

After awhile she rejoined her husband in the yard.

“This is a miracle,” he told her. “This is nothing short of a real miracle.”

She nodded agreement as the leader of the group brought over a slice of a tree.

 

“We like to leave a little something to the people we help,” he said as he handed them a slice of the large uprooted oak tree that used to stand in the middle of the yard.

Tears in their eyes, she and her husband explained how they had bought this oak tree when it was tiny and half dead from a hardware store and had enjoyed watching it grow over the years. She was surprised at how much comfort holding this small slice of the tree brought her.

Within an hour, her yard was clear of all the fences, branches and tree trunks they could manage. The leader approached them again. “Sorry we couldn’t do the set of leaning trees or the broken giant pine tree. You’ll probably need to hire a licensed contractor for those,” he apologized.

“No, no, no!” they said. “You don’t need to apologize! You’ve done enough! More than enough!”

A group photo was taken, hugs were exchanged, and then just as quickly as they had arrived, the group of yellow shirted angels left to look for another family to help.

There was still a lot of work to do such as picking up the shingles, searching for nails hidden in the grass, moving landscaping rocks and potted plants away from damaged gardens, and digging up few fence posts that had survived but without all the branches to work around, it would be so much easier and faster to get it done.

Tears slipping down her face, she thanked God for His love and care. She hadn’t asked Him for help with the yard, but He knew what they needed and provided it anyway.

What an amazing group of people!

What an amazing God!

Dear Frustrated One, (From Someone Who Loves You series)

 

Dear Frustrated One,

Why do you keep pushing me away when it’s my hand that holds what you want?  I can see how hungry you are. I know what you want and I want to give it to you. But you are the one stopping me. All that hitting and flailing out prevents me from doing what we both want.  I can keep battling your efforts to do it yourself but it would be so much easier if you would just relax and let me do for you what you can’t yet do for yourself. Oh, and those screams are not helping. Be still, Little One, and know I am here, ready to feed you as soon as you let me.

Always,

Someone who loves you

 

For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.  Ps 107:9

 

0722181732b (2)

These letters have double meaning. On the surface they are letters I’m writing to my granddaughter. But they are also letters God is writing to you. Reread them, replacing the greeting with your own name, and the closure with God’s name – and get to know the great love God has for you!

Counting On

Chewing on a brownie, she read the title of next short story in her book. It was an odd little book with the oddest stories. But each had a fascination of its own, so she would read one every chance she had, usually during her morning breaks at work. This one was called Counting On. Counting on what, she wondered as she turned the page.

The little girl loved to count. She had to count. She needed to count. But counting on things didn’t always work out for her. Actually, they rarely worked out for her.

Like when she tried counting on her crayons. She would line them up as she counted them. IMG_20180714_101429188One, two, three… until she ran out of crayons. No matter how big the box, she always ran out of crayons. That was bad enough, but the worst part was trying to keep the crayons from rolling around. It seemed most surfaces had some kind of slant to them, no matter how slight, that caused the crayons to roll at the slightest movement. She could sometimes lay them out on the carpet, but then someone usually came along and stepped on them, smashing them down into the ground.

So she tried other things. But nothing seemed to work. Not her beads – they were worse than the crayons. Not her dolls – there weren’t enough of them. Not her cereal – bugs eventually found them.

Finally she thought she had it! Silverware! They didn’t roll and there were plenty of the forks, knives, and spoons in the drawer! So she dumped them all out on the table and began counting them. It worked like a dream… until people began taking them.

“Hey, where did all the spoons go?”

“I need a fork.”

“Excuse me, mind if I take a knife to butter my bread?”

She got frustrated as silverware was taken from her and then returned to the wrong place, if they were returned at all. It got so bad she lost track of what she had counted and what she hadn’t. Didn’t anyone care enough, respect her enough to care where they took and returned the silverware? The hurt and frustration she felt each time finally took its toll and, crying, she gave up.

But her need to count on something remained so she looked for something else to count. Something that didn’t roll or attract bugs. And something that no one would take from her.

Then one day, while out shopping with her mom, she found the perfect thing – a bag of colored glass jewels! Not only did their flat bottoms keep them from rolling, they came in pretty colors. And not being edible, bugs would leave them alone as would everyone else since they were her own property.

For days she happily counted on her jewels, lining them up and enjoying the colors as she counted. She kept them in a velvet bag on top of her dresser when she wasn’t counting them. Whenever she felt the need to count, she would run to her room, grab the bag, dump them out on her bed, and count on them until her need was met.

But one day they weren’t there. She searched frantically as her need grew, until finally she found them behind the dresser. How did they get there? Did someone touch them when she wasn’t around? Relieved that she found them, she didn’t think anymore about their misplacement. That is, until it happened again. And then a third time. After searching, she would end up finding them in odd places. How was that happening? Was someone messing with them – and her? Or was she doing it herself? Was she having memory lapses? In any case, she knew she could no longer trust being able to count on the jewels. She had to find something else.

And then she found IT!

IT was perfect! IT didn’t roll. IT didn’t attract bugs. IT was her own personal property that no one could take, even if they wanted to. And IT was always with her, even when she wasn’t thinking about IT.

IT was her fingers! She could count on them every time she had the need. And when she ran out of fingers, she would just start back on her first finger while counting higher and higher. She found she could count forever with them, if she wanted. She had finally found the perfect thing to count on that would never disappoint!

Closing the book, she thought about what she had just read. Definitely odd, but it reminded her of something. Didn’t everyone have a need to count on something sometimes? Counting on the weather to be nice for a beach day? Counting on a friend to help with a task? Counting on her dog to provide entertainment when she was bored? And didn’t most things turn out to be unreliable at times? Rain instead of sunshine? Friend cancelling at the last minute? Dog too sleepy to play with?

But, she thought, we also have an IT. An amazing IT.  IT’s called Jesus! He’s always with us, no one can take Him from us, and we can count on Him forever!

She set the book down and, wiggling her fingers with a smile, got back to work.

The War Within

I wish sometimes she would just shut up and let me have what I want without making me feel guilty about it. I’m talking about that inner voice, the one that puts a damper on everything.

All I wanted was some of those sugar crusted spice drops.  I could just taste the sparkly sugar dissolving in my mouth…  Or that buttered popcorn, dripping with golden deliciousness…

But then the voice. “You don’t need it.”

Fine. I don’t need it. But I definitely want it.

“Your body doesn’t need it. Let it go. Fill your hunger with something healthier.”

Now my choices are to heed or to ignore the voice. Either way I will live with a regret. IMG_20180503_103424152Either momentary regret passing up something delightful to my senses, or lasting regret living with the effect it has in my body.  I’d love to say I had the discipline and maturity to choose the latter each time, but I don’t. There’s a battle between my inner child and my inner adult, and it’s evident when you look at my body, that my inner adult doesn’t always win.

The same holds true in the spiritual world…

That gossip sure sounds enticing. Just the thought of staying abreast of people’s lives and being in the know… Or that computer game that I just might beat with a little more time…

“You don’t need it.”

Sure, I don’t need to do either. But I want to.

“Your spirit doesn’t need it. Let it go. Fill your time with something healthier.”

The choices remain the same: heed or ignore the voice. The consequences also remain the same. Momentary regret or lasting regret. I’d love to say that I had the spiritual maturity and discipline to win these battles, but just like in the physical world, I don’t. In fact, I find winning these battles harder because it’s way easier to live with a fat, sluggish spirit than it is to live with a fat, sluggish body. No one can see it so it’s easy to hide it and even live in denial.

Why not end the war and just do what I want? After all, it’s not a salvation issue.

Maybe not, but it’s definitely a health issue.

Being healthy provides a higher quality of life than being unhealthy. I feel better when I’m healthy. I can be more active when I’m healthy. I can better enjoy interactions with my family and friends when I’m healthy.

Again the same is true with my spirit. Being spiritually healthy provides a higher quality of spiritual life than being unhealthy. I feel better and can be more active for God when I’m spiritually healthy. I can have more fun following God’s lead as I interact with people when I’m spiritually healthy.

So… maybe I don’t want that inner voice to shut up after all.

 

 

 

Relevant Scriptures:

1 Corinthians 10:23 Amplified Bible (AMP)  All things are lawful [that is, morally legitimate, permissible], but not all things are beneficial or advantageous. All things are lawful, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].

1 Tim 4:7b Amplified Bible (AMP)  … discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness (keeping yourself spiritually fit).

Romans 7:23 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)   I see a different standard at work throughout my body. It is at war with the standards my mind sets and tries to take me captive to sin’s standards which still exist throughout my body.

Trust Me

After her walk in the rain, she got in her car to head home. Home was about an hour away, through mostly uninhabited areas. There was the one small town between where she was and where she was going, but it was too small for even a traffic light. So she thought it would be an easy drive, especially in the early pre-dawn hours. She prayed like she usually did before making the drive, only this time her prayer was not about getting her safely home without delays or problems. It was that He would get her home according to His will. Why did she change her prayer, she wondered. That was strange.  But she just shrugged and drove out of the parking lot.

Thirty minutes later, as she entered that very small town, her car began to overheat. She watched with growing panic as the needle on the temperature gauge climbed steadily towards the HOT section.

IMG_20180322_095026472

She was still almost 30 minutes from home. No way would she be able to make it. As she slowed down and studied the few buildings she was passing, all closed up and dark, she began complaining.

“Why can’t this have happened after I got home?  There are people there who can help me. I don’t know anyone in this town. Besides, they’re all sleeping anyway. So what am I going to do?  I don’t even know where to get water.  This is just my luck! If something is going to go wrong, it sure will. Look at that gauge! I can’t keep driving, or the radiator might explode or something. Where should I stop? Man, I’m so tired! Why did I have to go walking in the rain? If I had come straight home, the gas station would have still been open…”  On and on she went, getting more worried by the minute.

Finally she turned to God.

“Why are you letting this happen, Lord?” she demanded. “Aren’t You supposed to be taking care of me?”

In her spirit she heard Him clearly. “What did you ask me before you started driving?”

She thought for a moment, then remembered.  ‘Get me home according to Your will.’

“Yeah, but I didn’t mean this!”

“Trust Me.”

Trust Him? He wasn’t the one in a overheating car in the middle of the night, without even a flashlight. Or was He?

“OK. Where do I stop?”

Just then she saw lights ahead of her. As she got nearer, she saw that it was a small restaurant. Could it actually be open? As she looked through the large glass windows, she could see a waitress serving a man. So she pulled into the parking lot and went inside. Despite, or maybe because of, her appearance – a young girl, soaking wet and all alone – the waitress and man were happy to help her. After a small mishap with the radiator cap, the man managed to refill the radiator with the water the waitress brought him. And the car was ready to make the last leg of the trip home.

Back on the road, she thought about what had just happened. And was thankful that that man just happened to be in that restaurant just as she was passing it. The restaurant could have been empty, considering time of day it was.  Coincidence? She shook her head. Jesus had told her to trust Him. And He was right. She learned that even if things go wrong, He can be trusted to take care of her.

Hmmm… maybe He was behind her changing her prayer in order to provide her with this experience in trusting Him. That would explain a lot. He was sneaky that way sometimes.

“You are amazing,” she told Him. ‘But next time, can we just wait until I get home?”