Where’s the Chicken?

Where’s the Chicken?

Bojangles out of chicken… WHAT!? It’s like Starbucks with no coffee… it just doesn’t happen! Except it did one Sunday afternoon on my way home from church.

If you’ve never had Bojangles chicken, I’m sorry. But you’re missing out. It’s a Southern staple; crispy chicken, hot fixin’s and sweet, sweet–dare I say it again– sweet tea.

With the Panther’s game starting in a half-hour, I pulled into the parking lot with the line wrapped around the building. Silently I prayed it wouldn’t take long.

Finally, my turn to place an order, “8 Piece Tailgate special, please with mac-n-cheese, green beans and sweet tea.”

“Yes, ma’am. Please drive around.”

Eventually, I made it to the window and the lady greeted me with the friendliest of smiles. What she said next though made my mouth drop.

“Ma’am, I sorry. But we just ran out of chicken.”

My eyes flashed wide as I thought maybe I heard her wrong. “You’re kidding. This is a joke, right?”

“No ma’am. I’m afraid we just sold our last piece of chicken to the car in front of you.”

Dropping my head in disbelieve, I asked, “You mean you’re completely out of chicken?”

“Yes, ma’am. But if you give us twenty minutes, I’ll bring your order to you.”

The clock on the dashboard flashed 1:25 pm. The Panthers kicked off in five minutes.

I must’ve looked furious because the lady replied, “Ma’am what can I do to make your wait more tolerable? Can I give you extra sweet tea or how about more biscuits?”

The smile on her face and the twinkle in her doe brown eyes were more than I could handle. How could I be upset with such a loving face?

“Throw in a few more chicken legs and you have a deal,” I replied.

I moved my car to an empty parking space and turned up the Panthers radio station to listen to the game. Hopefully, I’d only miss watching the first quarter.

Thirty minutes later, I still didn’t have my order and decided to check on it.

As I entered the lobby, angry faces swarmed around me, and I apologetically moved to the front of the line hoping to find the employee from earlier.

Suddenly I heard, “Oh, ma’am, I was fixin’ to bringing this out to you.”

I turned to see her round smiling face. “It’s okay. I can see you’re busy.” And I reached out and she handed me the bag.

“I’m truly sorry for your wait. As promised, extra chicken, biscuits and sweet tea are in there. Thank you for waiting patiently, and it’s been my pleasure serving you today.”

Flabbergasted, I replied, “Thank you for your kindness. I hope your day improves.”

“Oh, it’s been awesome! Unfortunately, running out of chicken caused a little hiccup but life happens,” she shrugged.

Looking at the other customers, I wouldn’t have called it a hiccup but her infectious attitude made it better. She truly enjoyed what she did, and it showed.

This experience made me think about my attitude towards work, angry people, crazy drivers– and believe me, we have a few around here– and my ministry.

What is my ministry?

It’s anything the Lord has called me to do. Whether it’s writing a book, or caring for children, or running errands for an elderly neighbor, or waiting on angry customers at Bojangles.

As Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

We’re to do everything with love in our hearts and do it to serve the Lord because we know our reward comes from Him.

I’m not sure if the Bojangles employee I met necessarily thought she worked for the Lord, but the fruit of her spirit proved it’s a possibility. Calm and courteous, she showed me respect and love in an impossible situation.

Thank You, Lord, for reminding me of Your generous Spirit and that You require the same from me in all I do. Thank You for the Bojangles employee who afforded me dignity and appreciation despite my selfishness. May Your blessings and inheritance be her reward!

 

 

“What I Have I Give to You!”

“What I Have I Give to You!”

Have you ever felt an overwhelming conviction from God’s word that it brought you to your knees? Or have you ever heard your personal story narrated by Matthew, Mark, Luke or even John?

Reading Acts 3, Luke spoke directly to me as if we were the only two people in the room– humbling me to my knees.

The story unfolds shortly after the resurrection of Jesus Christ and Peter, a disciple of Jesus, heals a crippled beggar at the temple gate called Beautiful. The man had never walked a day in his life.

Peter said to him, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

And the man got up and walked. People watching were filled with wonder and amazement at what happened to this man.

Then Peter asked, “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?”

Like those people, I’ve been filled with the wonder and amazement at miracles I’ve witnessed and like them, I’ve overlooked God at the center.

Early in my walk with God, He asked me to do the impossible – establish transitional housing for battered women and children in my community. He gave me a vision, but I had no idea know where to begin. Unemployed with a young child, God provided me with everything I needed; including the passion and fire to believe Him.

God strategically placed people in my life. I established a small working board, and together we were awarded a 501c3 tax-exempt non-profit status. Then we submitted grant proposals for funding– and, surprisingly, people gave us money!

As a high school drop out with only a GED, I had never written anything but failing book reports, so writing grant proposals proved rather intimidating. God, however, uses our weaknesses as His strength.

Next, we found a location and opened the doors to woman and children who needed a safe place to live and time to get back on their feet.

We were breaking the ties of domestic violence and giving families the opportunity to live a life free from violence!

Somewhere along the way, however, I forgot it was through faith in God that I received the power to do what He called me to do and as His instrument, He worked through me – not the other way around. Pride crept in and took up permanent residence in my heart.

I became tired and weary from doing everything on my own. Eventually, the program closed and I walked away from everything – including God.

Years later, I heard God’s voice calling me back home. I started meeting Him again in the mornings to read His word and openly talked with Him. God honored my faithfulness and time by filling my heart with His passion and fire once more.

Not long afterward God asked me to do the impossible again– donate one of my kidneys to a complete stranger.  God had a sense of humor because this time He made sure I couldn’t take credit for any of it. All the miracles that transpired could only have come from Him.

Even the desire to do it, God gave to me. As Peter said, “What I have I give to you.” I didn’t have anything to give until God first gave it to me.

On July 6, 2011, I donated my kidney to David Ensley, a friend of my husband from high school. God created the perfect kidney in me to save his life. We were such a close physical match we should’ve been siblings; although, we had never even met until then. David takes minimal anti-rejection medication as a result of this miracle-match.

Last month, David walked his daughter down the aisle and danced with her at her wedding. Four years ago it wouldn’t have even been a possibility. God is good!

Also in 2008, the YWCA opened Families in Transition, providing families with children long-term housing and intensive support services. God continues to provide for the needs of His children.

Thank you, God, for your faithfulness and Your blessings. Your love continues to amazes me!

Amen.

My First Prince Charming

My First Prince Charming

Where does the time go? One minute my baby is softly cooing in the crook of my arm and the next I’m meeting his girlfriend’s parents. Life happens fast – unfortunately, it can feel lightening fast.

On his first day of kindergarten I wanted to drive Alex to school but no, not my independent, free-spirited son. He wanted to ride the bus with his friends. So with his Superman lunch box in one hand and an empty backpack flapping behind him, we headed off to the bus stop.

As the bus pulled away, I ran to my car and waited. Then crouching behind the steering wheel, so not to be seen, I followed the bus all the way to the school. He never saw me, as I watched him through tear-drenched eyes, bounce happily through the doors of the school and out of sight.

It’s been that way ever since – I watch, holding my breath, as he leaps from one life adventure to the next.

His first day of college was no different. My husband and I moved him into the dorm and as we left, he waved and said, “Bye mom,” – no fear in his voice, only pure excitement.

This past weekend my mother and I went to visit him, and his girlfriend Catherine, or “Cat,” as she’s affectionately called, in Charleston, South Carolina. They’re both seniors at the College of Charleston and have been dating for almost a year.

We went primarily to support Cat as she participated in the college’s first home equestrian competition of the year. She’s been showing horses in competition events since she was a young girl and has grown into an excellent rider.

Bundled up in warm clothing and rain boots, we trekked out to the “barn” to meet Cat and her parents – not exactly knowing what to expect.

Jim and Therese, of course, were wonderful, and I enjoyed meeting them and becoming friends. But I’m not sure if I was ready for what I witnessed next.

When Alex was a small child, I thought about how he would one day be some lucky girl’s Prince Charming, and I prayed God would bless her. I asked God to help me raise Alex to know how to treat a lady with love and affection, so he would be a man worthy of her love and respect.

Watching Cat and her father, it was apparent that she was daddy’s girl. I saw the love in his eyes as she cantered the horse around the ring. And his face beamed as she accepted sixth place. It didn’t matter if she won or not; she was having fun, and her dad burst with pride at the sight of her.

It was, also, evident by her dad’s actions and comments that he silently questioned whether he trusted Alex with his daughter’s heart. To be honest it bothered me at first, but then I realized, as her dad he should judge her daughter’s boyfriend. One day he would give his daughters hand in marriage to a young man and no matter who it was, he better be worthy of it – including my son.

Being a single mother for many years, Alex was the light of my life. In many ways, he saved me the day he was born. I’ve often thought God knew what He was doing when He blessed me with my son.

Alex will graduate college in the spring, and he will have the world as his playground. It feels like yesterday when I held his hand as we went up and down the stairs a hundred-million times because it was his newest adventure. Although, he may not need to hold my hand anymore, I’m honored as his mother to watch him grow into an amazing man capable of loving, laughing and living life to the fullest – and for me, he will always be my first Prince Charming!

“A man loves his sweetheart the most, his wife the best but his mother the longest.” – Irish Proverb

I Wouldn’t Make a Good Homeless Person!

I Wouldn’t Make a Good Homeless Person!

As I breathed out a long, deep sigh, a stream of hot water pulsated over my worn-out body. Leaning my head against the shower door, I allowed the warmth of the water to comfort me.

It had been a long day pulling weeds and planting vegetables in the garden, and a nice warm shower was my only desire. I propped my head against the wall with my eyes closed and allowed the hours of dirt and sweat to pour off me.

At that moment, an unsettling thought crowded my mind – this shower was a privilege and a luxury many people couldn’t afford, and something I’ve taken for granted will always be available. Humility filled my heart as stood in a shallow pool of water with wet hair and a soapy sponge ready to wash my worries and cares of the day away.

I often joke with my husband that I wouldn’t make a good homeless person. I liked my comfortable bed and my warm pajamas. I couldn’t possibly live in a cardboard box with him– no matter how cute he was!

“I am a high maintenance type of woman,” I declared, flinging my reddish-blonde hair over my shoulder for a little added effect.

Thinking about that statement, I realized how self-righteous and entitled it sounded. Something my Grandmother always quoted, “There by the grace of God go I.” It’s a reminder to me that I’m, but one blessing away from being that person I criticize.

The Glass Castle, a memoir by Jeannette Walls, is about her life growing up in poverty and living on the streets, or cars, or broken-down houses not fit for human living. She described days of going without food, or sometimes if she was lucky, cutting away the maggots from old meat because the insides were still good. On really good days, she would find half eaten food people threw in the garbage and would share it with her siblings – a Thanksgiving feast!

The shack they lived in West Virginia didn’t have running water so taking a bath, especially a hot bath, was not an option for her.  She would carry buckets of water up from the stream to provide enough water for a sponge bath, but it was never hot.

And here I am in a clean shower with hot, water cascading all around me. How blessed am I?

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m reminded of all my many blessings. But as I reflect, I ask myself– do I mirror God’s character? When people look at me, do they see Him?

Jesus was the first to feed the thousands, and he often ate with the prostitutes and beggars. Jesus called me to follow Him. Do I follow Him? Or, do I rush by the person on the street asking for food, instead of stopping to talk and offering him a sandwich?

Do I take a minute to hold the door for the struggling mother with a child on one hip and the other dangling from her arm? Or, do I hurry by her because I don’t want to be bothered?

Or, what about the person on the corner with a sign “Homeless- will work for food!”? What are my thoughts? Do I immediately judge him and the choices he’s made? Or, do I lovingly offer him the “Blessing Package” I have in my car with supplies of crackers, water, socks, and a few dollars? And was it given without judgment?

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or s stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” – Matthew 25:44-45 (NIV)

As we spend time this Thanksgiving with our families and friends, let’s give thanks and ask God to show us ways we can reflect His love and character to others.

“Thank you, Lord, for your blessings in my life. Show me ways I can be your hands and feet. Provide me with the opportunities to do for others because I don’t want to miss doing for You!”

Amen.

For those who want to know what a “Blessing Package is:

  • Gallon size Ziploc bag
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste/ toothbrush
  • Socks
  • Chapstick
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Crackers
  • Mini water bottle
  • Gloves/ scarves
  • Feminine products (for the females)
  • A note card with “Jesus loves you.” And a couple of dollars in the card (if you want to).

You can put just about anything it in but from my experience these work best. I normally get items from the Dollar Store or Family Dollar.

I make up one or two and keep them in my car. Then I pray and ask God to put the person in my path who needs to receive it. But remember you have to be willing to stop, even if you’re in a hurry when you feel the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit. I’ve ignored it before and have always felt sorry later.

The people I’m led to give the package to are usually very honored to accept of the gift. But what I receive no amount of money can compare.

Also, ask for their name so you can pray for them later.

 

What? Write a Book? Blog? Seriously!?

What? Write a Book? Blog? Seriously!?

Who am I to write a blog, much less a book? That’s the question I often ask myself. Then I hear, “Who are you not to?” So I write.

Pondering the story of the Samaritan woman I see many similarities between her and me. She, also, had a shady past filled with immorality and deceit but upon meeting Jesus at the well He didn’t seem to care about her past. In fact, He called her out on it but in a very loving and forgiving manner.  She thought he was a prophet, but Jesus revealed Himself to her and her life immediately changed.

With much excitement she went tell the other Samaritan’s about His love and how it had affected her life. Many believed in Jesus because of her story and, as a result, came to hear Him preach. Afterward, they believed not only because of her words but because they heard for themselves the wonderful news of God’s love and forgiveness.

That bible story sums up my hope and inspiration for writing. I may not be the best or the most polished writer but like the Samaritan woman, experiencing Christ’s loving forgiveness for myself, makes me want to shout from the mountain top that His love has altered my life forever. Who knows… maybe you to will hear and believe for yourself, too.

But wow, has it been scary and uncomfortable! Stepping out in faith and pursuing God’s purpose in my life has not been easy. Fear overwhelms me at times, and I ask, “Why me?”

In January of this year, I decided to act on God’s promptings to write a book about my experience as a living kidney donor. I had never written a book before and had no idea where to begin. I decided to take an online writing course, and learned the secret to writing well is – wait, hold on it’s amazing– is just to write. Interesting concept, I know!

So, I started writing the book and then one day my boss told me he had to lay me off– downsizing. On the positive side, however, I found myself with a lot more time to write my book.

Now, I’m told that to get a publisher I need to have a “following” which I’ve found out is a great thing for me, or at least that’s the way God sees it.

I’m not the type of person who likes to be in the front of the group with the spotlight shining down on me. Personally, I’m more comfortable on the sidelines cheering on other people. God, however, likes to push me outside of my comfort zone which is why you find yourself reading this blog. It’s God’s “gentle” nudging – love it!

But I share because God has asked me to, and I pray that those who need to hear will listen, and those who need to see will know.

Thank you for letting this Samaritan woman share my love for Jesus with you.

I pray that one day you will say, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.” John 4:42 (NIV)

Amen.