Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Navigating the Seasons

 Navigating the Seasons
Carol Condon

I am not a winter person. I do not like to be cold. During one especially cold winter day, I was talking to my Mom and mentioned that I hate winter. She quickly corrected me. She told me not to resent the seasons, as they are needed to make the following season “beautiful.”

I added the adjective “beautiful” as spring is my second favorite season only topped by summer. I love watching life return to all that winter depleted. I am amazed at how the dried up and lifeless landscape begins transforming seemingly right before my eyes.

Each season has tools that are needed to maneuver through them. In spring we bust out the shovel and tiller to prepare our garden. The lawn mower and weed eater have been gassed up and are ready to start their weekly schedule. The ladder is set up for the much-needed spring-cleaning both inside and outside the home.

Summer is next and I couldn’t be happier. Sunscreen and flip-flops have replaced sweatshirts and boots. The AC and fans are handy for the hot, humid days. The garden is growing and the sprinklers are sprinkling. The garden rake stays busy attacking all the weeds and the fishing poles stand strung and ready.

Fall starts off so nice. The heated days are slowly replaced with cool ones. The trowel is digging and planting bulbs for the following spring. The garden is harvested and the tiller comes back out to prepare the ground for winter. The rakes are busy sweeping through the yards gathering all the fallen leaves. The pruning shears cut back the plants and the lawn mower makes its final run for the year. The fire pit comes out and marshmallows are purchased.

Winter never seems to creep in. It roars! We fill the wiper fluid in our vehicles. The snow shovels have been placed by the garage door. Ice scrapers have been put into each car and the ice pellets set just inside the door. The gloves, hats and boots have been brought out of storage as winter comes welcomed or not.

What about our seasons of life? “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3  Do we have our “tools” handy? There is a time to laugh and a time to cry. A time to grieve and a time to dance. Are we prepared to switch seasons? Do we have the proper tools to navigate them?

Our “tools” need to be handy as we transition from season to season. We need to have the Scriptures at our fingertips and the songs on our play lists.  The podcasts need downloaded and the books purchased. The friend’s list needs weeded and the spirit need renewed.

The seasons will change whether we are ready or not. How you navigate them is up to you.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Empty Shoes

Empty Shoes
Carol Condon

The relief of finally reaching my senior year of collage was an amazing feeling. There were a few moments when I wondered if graduation day would ever come. As the year was winding down our Bible School president called a meeting with all the soon to be graduates. Together we had worked, prayed, laughed, cried, studied and now we were going to graduate together.

At first everything was so warm and fuzzy, but then he asked us all to think back to just before leaving home. What were you doing in your local church? What ministries were you involved in? We corporately began thinking and making mental notes of the answers to each question. He then brought us face to face with reality. “All of those positions have been filled in your absence. Don’t go home thinking that you will reclaim positions that others now fill.” In simple terms, you left some empty shoes and others now occupy. I don’t think any of us were expecting that raw piece of truth.

But, it was just that, truth. Painful, raw truth. Graduation day was everything I had dreamed of. I held the portfolio with a certificate tucked neatly inside representing three years of work, and a life goal completed. Little did I realize that the real education was yet in front of me. Everything I was told that day was true. I retuned home and found the worship leader, Sunday School teacher, and Bus Ministry positions all filled. That day in my early 20’s I received a lesson that has proven true time and time again.

Throughout the years I have continued my education with one of the best forms available: experience. I have been blessed to be in some amazing ministry posts and in some very special friendships. Back to the painful truth, empty shoes will be filled.  It would be an extremely lonely position to find oneself in, if truly alone. Through it all, I was never forsaken and I encourage you to listen and obey His call and not be afraid of the shoes you may leave or the shoes you may fill.

"I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”
Psalms 37:25

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Napkin

The Napkin
Carol Condon

The 4th of July parade was a regular event in our home growing up.  The lawn chairs were loaded in the trunk along with a blanket for the kids. The candy bags were in our pockets and fresh batteries for the camera were thrown in the bulky camera bag. We loaded up early so we could get as close to the curb as possible. The “be fair about how much candy you grab” talk was given to all of us kids. The beauty queens were perched on top of the cars, the bands were lined up and tuned up, the clowns were already producing laughter, and the horses were prancing to get the parade going! As the applause made it down to our blanket we knew the parade had begun!

My dad must have had an extra sense about him. Before the boots could be heard marching in unison or the flag peeking over the hill, my dad was already standing with his hand over his heart. We were all just seconds behind him. I remember one year my dad leaned over and said, “Carol, don’t ever take the flag for granted and stay seated. Make sure you stand every time.” As I saw this giant of a man’s eyes gather tears, mine did too. Sadly, all those years ago we would glance around and see many Americans still seated counting up their candy stash as the flag carried by our veterans passed by.

Years passed and the patriotism in our family stood firm. Although my siblings and I had married and scattered across the United States, we treasured every moment we were able to come home and visit with each other and our sweet parents. However, the dreaded time had come when my Dad had fallen ill. One thing after another and his health seemed to deteriorate right before our eyes. Little did I realize that on July 4, 2008, I would have my final Independence Day with my dad.

My sister, Pam, became and still reigns as the family hostess. She decorates beautifully for every season and cooks amazing! We gathered together for the July 4th picnic. Dad was seated in a recliner and mom brought him his meal. The volume of our family can be quite intense but my mom was tuned to dads quiet, “Honey?” As she walked over, his chin quivered as he held up his flag napkin that went perfectly with the day. He politely asked, “Can you please get me something to wipe my mouth with? I have tried but I just cannot use this.” Tears began to flow from all of us as we took a moment to look at our hero, our WWII Purple Heart veteran, as he sat with tears dripping from his eyes at the thought of wiping his mouth with the flag of the United States of America.

Let us never forget how blessed we are to be Americans in this great land I love.

2 Chronicles 7:14King James Version (KJV)
14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Interruption

The Interruption
Carol Condon

The storm hit so quick. Chase and I were standing in our living room when thunder rolled so loudly that it shook our home. It was accompanied moments later by a brilliant streak of light lasting just seconds before all was dark.  We stood looking at each other wondering what we had just experienced. Had our home been hit by lightning?

We were running really close on time, so we made sure Webster was ok (he was hiding in our closet), and out the door we ran.  Later that evening, we noticed that the garage doors were not working.  That was actually minor compared to what all we found in the weeks to follow. We could see that we had electricity, water, and gas, so we assumed all was ok. However, randomly the internet would go out, the outside lights quit working, certain receptacles throughout the house no longer worked, and the “what’s not working” list began to grow. I made a call to the local electric company and was told that they would look into it.

A few mornings later Bryce came downstairs stating that the electricity in his room went out. I called the company back and explained the storm and the "interruptions" all over again. They finally admitted that something was wrong. Upon further inspection, it was determined that our home had been hit by lightning, resulting in the random interruptions of power.

It made me stop and think about how the storms of life strike, catching us completely unaware. We look around for damage, pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and walk away.  Everything seems to be working so we carry on.  Bam! Then comes the random interruptions of power. We feel fine when we drift off to sleep, but as the morning sun hits our face we wake up weak and powerless.  What seemed to be working is now not working at all. One thought, one wrong assumption, or even one memory can cause an interruption that can take days to repair. We must contact the Source of our strength and allow Him to repair the damage sustained by our “storm”.  We may have our power interrupted, but it is our Lord who will give power to the weak and return strength to those “without power.”

“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.”
Isaiah 40:29 NLT  

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Life Preserver

The Life Preserver
Carol Condon

There are common sights, sounds, and scents that we associate with a vacation scheduled near water. Laughter, squeals of delight, and “Marco Polo” shouted across the water are mingled with the scents of a variety of tanning lotions. Sunglasses have been put on and a rainbow of color is displayed on rafts, surfboards, and life preservers as they decorate the pools and beach areas.

One of my memorable vacations was when Miquel and Jared were only 6 and 4 years old. We had just arrived at the hotel, and the pool was the #1 agenda for them. We were heading to dinner but the kids had begged to jump in just once. We couldn’t resist even though this “one jump” was going to cost about an hour of clean up time. We grabbed the bright orange arm floaties and headed to the pool area.  Once we reached the shallow end we secured their life preservers and they jumped in.

As Jared was pulling himself out of the water this cute, little girl walked up and in her southern little drawl said, “Hi. My name is Katie. I am four years old and I don’t need to wear floaties.” and she dove in.  Jared was barely off the ladder when he began yanking off his bright little arm floaties.  I was totally being a Mom and went into panic mode.  He jumped in before I could grab him and quickly popped back up just a kicking and coughing. We had equipped him with a life preserver, because at the time he was not properly trained for anything deeper than bath water.

As parents we would not dream of turning our children loose onto a boat or into a pool without a proper life preserver on. We fear for their safety, and until they have been through appropriate training their life preservers stay on with a “no exception” rule.

Are we as careful about living in the world as we are with swimming in the pool? What about that friend from work, your neighbor, the mom you car-pool with, your bus driver, your teacher, your classmates and the guy at the gym? Are you prepared to put their life preserver on? How will they survive without it?

The world has not been tried and tested and given a rating “for ages 12 and up”. There is required training that must take place. As I began to think of the unsafe conditions of a body of water to the non-swimmer, I began to consider the unsafe conditions of the world to the many people that are living day by day without Him. My mind began to see people of all ages and in all walks of life going about their daily responsibilities with a life preserver on decorated with Scriptures, sermons, and daily devotions, along with fasting and prayer times. We must stay in training. We must keep our “life preservers” on with a “no exception” rule. May God help us if we ever get to a place in life where we feel the training is over and declare, “Hi. My name is _______.  I am ____ years old, and I don’t need to wear floaties.”

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”
Romans 15:4 NIV


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Gardener and His Wife

The Gardener and His Wife
Carol Condon

I noticed the folded paper towel pressed toward the back of our countertop. Being an inquisitive young girl, I opened it and saw little seeds stuck in each fold. Thankfully I didn’t just pitch it. I asked my Mom what they were and she informed me that one day they would be tomatoes.

In our gardener’s opinion it wasn’t as simple as just buying a seed, pushing it through the dirt, and waiting to see if it would sprout. My dad had a plan that was in effect year around. He grew the most amazing tomatoes that I have ever tasted. He took seeds from them, dried them out, placed them in little jars to sprout, planted them under fluorescent lighting throughout the winter, and transplanted them into tiny cups of special soil. Finally, when the plants seemed strong enough, it was spring and time to go into the ground.

My mom was side by side my dad throughout this whole process. The gardener, my dad, then cut carpet strips to go between the rows of these precious plants. He said the carpet helped with the weeds and his knees as he knelt to work around each plant. He built his own wire cages that would assist the plant as it grew to an unbelievable height. As my dad went to work, I would look out the window and there was my mom, the gardener’s wife, down on her knees pulling weeds, checking for insect damage, and looking for ripe tomatoes to bring to the table.

As I loaded a box of about 750 door hangers into my car last night, I thought of my sweet parents, “the gardener and his wife”, and realized that I have become a “gardener’s wife”, the wife of a church planter.

Mark told me in April of 2013 that he had finally apologized to the Lord for not acting on the call that he had been battling with for approximately 10 years. I knew what this meant. Because of the price that this would cost, I went into denial. I had a perfect little comfort zone. My husband was employed as a full time worship pastor of a great church. Our children were all involved in different areas of the church. My parents and siblings have always lived far from me so this church had become my family and I knew I would have to walk away. Finally, I, too, apologized to the Lord as I embraced this calling.

Like my dad, we began to collect “seeds” and prepare them for planting. Thankfully, it was not just the “gardener and his wife”, but 5 great children along with a fabulous team gathered and began planting along side of us. After many months of preparing the seeds, soil, and the garden plot for Infinite Church, we are ready. God has blessed us with an “upper room” in a “store front” at Creekside in Gahanna, Ohio. This coming Sunday, August 17, 2014, at 10:00am we will have the Official Launch of Infinite Church. There are many of you who will not be able to be with us on this momentous day, but we so need your prayers and the support of those of you who are able to give at www.ininitechurch.org.

The Great Commission has now entered a new city and we do not take it lightly.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Matthew 28:19

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

She Lost Her Way

She Lost Her Way
Carol Condon

It began just like any normal Monday; however, it ended unlike any normal Monday. Chase and I left for his weekly piano lesson. The parking lot was nearly empty as we waited for his instructor to arrive.

I suddenly felt myself being watched. As I turned my head, there was an elderly lady pressed into my window. I asked her if I could help.  She just shrugged her shoulders and said she was looking for her husband. I explained that I had not seen anyone but I would keep my eyes open.

The elderly hold a special place in my heart. I do not like to see them eat alone, walk alone, look lonely, and I especially do not like it when they look sad.  This little lady exemplified most of these traits. She was holding a little shopping bag and a jacket. I asked if her husband was in poor health, and if we should alert the authorities. She said, “no” that he had just "left home" and didn't want to be found.

I began to suspect that maybe she was suffering from poor health and decided to keep an eye on her. Then, she fell. I called 911. She pulled herself up and continued walking. I was afraid I would startle her by putting her in my van so I just kept my distance and followed her.

She reached a building and two men got out of their cars so I hurried to her side. By this time it was easy to see she had lost her way. I told the gentlemen that I did not know her but I would stay with her until we could return her home.

As we questioned her, her eyes became more and more vacant. She said she didn’t know her name, where she lived, or any phone numbers. She looked over and told me that she had brought her most important possessions. She pulled out a rusty mirror, a checkbook that happened to be empty, a folder with 3 pictures, and a greeting card.  My heart broke. She finally looked at me, put her head into her hands, and said, “I just don’t remember.” I assured her that it would be ok and we would help her find her way.

With all of us working together asking questions, along with the items in the bag, the authorities were able to gather enough information to locate her address.  She indeed was lost.  She had left that morning and had walked for miles until she ended up at my van. I will never forget her eyes or watching her walk in circles searching for someone but remembering no one.

I began to look with new eyes at all the people walking around “lost”.  Was there anyone helping them? Will someone turn them from walking in circles to walking in His way?  Are we too busy with our own life and our own walk that we don’t recognize the lost?

“…in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Philippians 2:3,4 NIV