What I Have Is Enough!

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In June, at church, I told my story, “A Boy and His Lunch”. It is a retelling of the Bible story called “Feeding the Five Thousand.” That particular morning wasn’t a good day. I hadn’t slept well. As I ate my breakfast, my ailing back screaming with pain, I wondered if I would survive leading worship. I prayed, “God I need your energy. I’m barely moving this morning. Please carry me.”

On the way to the church, I rehearsed the story in my mind and came to the lines “Even then, at the age of eight, I knew my lunch was just a drop in Jesus’ ocean of need. There would be enough for him and maybe even some of his friends but that crowd of thousands, no not at all. Jesus said it was just what he needed. And it was. It truly was.”

I thought about my aching back and the tiny bit of energy I had that morning. “OK God,” I prayed, “I’m giving you all that I have. I can do no more. The rest is up to you.” I envisioned Jesus reaching out to me and taking my hand.

“You’re all I need this morning Janet,” he said. “Thank you, Father for Janet’s gift of commitment and storytelling.”

I felt God’s blessing of peace and strength descend upon me. I flew through that service. I felt God’s Spirit pour forth as I told the story and served communion. God used my offering and all were fed. I went on to do a funeral service in the afternoon and enjoy supper out with friends. Yes, I was exhausted when the day was over. Pain had descended again. Yet I was filled with joy.

I gave what I had. That is all God asks. God took care of the rest. Thanks be to God.

Andrew said, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?…Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.”  (John 6:9 & 11)

 

 

 

Is More and Bigger Always the Best?

 

moreWhether it’s diamonds, homes, internet games, food, or colorful stimulation, society tells us that MORE and BIGGER is what we want.

I remember arriving at our tiny country church one Sunday morning to discover that the person responsible for purchasing the bread and juice for Communion had suffered a heart attack. In those days, stores were not open on Sunday. Our closest parishioner had one slice in his pantry.  Carefully, we cut that bread into 35 tiny pieces. In the back of the fridge we found a lunch size bottle of grape juice. We added some water and filled 35 tiny glasses with the mauve watery liquid. We shared communion with our congregation and had bread and juice left over.

Why, because no one came with the expectation of MORE and BIGGER. The tradition of one small bit of bread and one tiny glass was established in the early church. We are at God’s table in order to feed our souls not our bellies. At communion that day, we shared what we had and received God’s nourishment.

When Jesus draws his friends’ attention to the widow who gave two small coins into the temple treasury he’s not focused on “more and bigger”. Jesus values her generosity and commitment.

“She gave all she had.”

God doesn’t ask for MORE and BIGGER.  God asks only that we give what we have. We can trust that God will receive our generosity with joy.

Jesus said, “a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins,… Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.” (Mark 12:42-43)

 

 

Book Signing at Soul Feast, Junaluska, North Carolina

Yesterday I was blessed with the opportunity to join with a number of Upper Room authors at a book signing at Soul Feast, in Junaluska, North Carolina. The Upper Room Publishing Team were extremely gracious in allowing me to participate as the only self-published author present. In fact their marketing director came over to give me tips on how to draw people to my books. It was fun and exhausting.

Book Signing is fun!
Book Signing is fun!

Three Simple Steps

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In early May, like many people I reflected on the disastrous collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh. I listened as the news media and individuals brought pressure on Canadian companies involved in the disaster, to provide compensation for the families affected and to ensure that workers across Bangladesh had a safe working environment. Gradually, other more pressing issues drew my thoughts away.

June 19th, the CBC Six o’clock news did a follow up report on the disaster. Neither, family compensation or safer working conditions had yet to happen.

How do we ensure these changes actually take place?

Now, it’s July. The pressure is off. The worship of profit – the almighty dollar –  can surge forward. We need to keep up the pressure. Our letters and emails demanding change so easily produced in May, are essential in July if we want more than rhetoric to happen.

To be truly effective we need to follow these three simple steps:

  1. Set up a reminder on your calendar or your computer, so that once each month you will send a letter/email to companies like Loblaws informing them that you are waiting to hear news reports that changes are in place before you will once again buy their product. Once you’ve sent one letter the major work is done. You have the address and the person to contact in your file.
  2. Continue to avoid those labels that were named as companies involved in that sweat shop factory.
  3. Pray. Include those workers in your daily prayers.

Five minutes of your time each month will keep the pressure on those giant companies. Five minutes of your time will place you in solidarity with the poor of Bangladesh. You’re worth that five minutes and so are your neighbors in Bangladesh.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matthew 22:39)

Cultivate An Attitude of Gratitude

 

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The last few months, as I have struggled with a badly damaged back, I have had to work hard to appreciate our wonderful world.  Darkness has been lurking on the fringes of my world and at times has been encroaching closer and closer to the center of my thoughts. Pain does that.

Whether physical or emotional, pain can change our perception of our lives.

In order to cope I’ve focused on living an attitude of gratitude. Each day, I seek out the good things in my life. I’m choosing to focus on the beauty and wonder of the stars, rather than the weight and stickiness of the mud beneath my feet.

Whether or not you are in the midst of struggle, I encourage you to:

Begin a gratitude journal.

Choose a notebook that feels good in your hand and appeals to your eye. Begin by giving thanks for this book and the people involved in producing it. Express your appreciation for your ability to read and write. Already you have listed three things in your journal. Use this journal to give thanks for at least five persons, things, events every day.

Over time, you’ll discover that you do indeed live in a wonderful world. Even in the midst of your pain, disappointment, grief, you are surrounded with abundant opportunities to be grateful. Try it for a month.

Make the choice. Enjoy your blessings. After all, you are blessed with the gift of being a Canadian and living in this wonderful country.

“I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30: 19)

For More on Living a life of Gratitude go to: http://dougkasper.com/self-help-articles/create-a-gratitude-attitude