Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Wish List

The Wish List
Carol Condon

The smooth covers were creased, worn, and in some places even torn.  Markers of many colors left bold circles throughout the catalog with an initial added claiming each "wish circle" as their own.  As the mail carrier arrived each day during the Christmas season the kids eagerly waited to search through the wonderland of every toy company's advertisement of their weekly specials.

As parents we have all been guilty of reminding our children that they better be good. Christmas is just around the corner. We have even whispered, "You better watch out you, you better not cry, you better not pout……"  They quickly sober and go back to scouring the pictures of treasures that are only a store away.  The wish list has grown to quite the length by shopping day.  Even "things" containing heart beats have been added.  To the shock and amazement of parents there nestled among the toy train and dolly set the shocking wishes of a new puppy and baby sister.

Reminders have been given to children all over the world.  They go something like this, "Honey, you know we can't get you everything you wish for." "Mommy and Daddy do not own the bank." We have even handed them a blank piece of paper and told them, "Here, you need to start your wish list all over and be a little more reasonable."

As Christians we have the "Catalog" of all catalogs.  It arrived many, many years ago and the price is still current but has already been paid.  In the pages lay so many items just waiting to be circled, initialed and added to the "wish list."

There are so many sections.  You need comfort? Psalm 55:22 "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved."
You need strength? Isaiah 40:29 "He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength."
Has grief overtaken you? Isaiah 25:8 "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces."
Do you struggle with fear? How about this "item" Isaiah 41:13 For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee."
Are your cupboards bare? No worries, Matthew 6:31,32 "Therefore take no thought saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink: or Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." Do you feel lost? Easy directions, Proverbs 3:6 "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
Need salvation Acts 2:39 " For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call."
Need joy?  He has that in stock! Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life; in thy presence is fulness of joy; at they right hand there are pleasure for evermore."  Are you lonely?  He is there for you. Isaiah 58:9 "Then shalt thou call, and he shall say, Here I am."

Why do we live without when He has a full inventory that is paid for and just waiting to be picked up? Take out your marker today and begin circling His promises.  Make your wish list.  I promise you that He won't be out of stock.  There is nothing too expensive and He will never throw your wishes away and tell you to start over.  He won't even make you wait until December 25 to open them! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Spilled Milk

Spilled Milk
Carol Condon

It was going to be a special morning because I was having a breakfast date with my husband, who happens to be my best friend. Mark meets his mornings by leaping out of bed and greeting his new day with as much noise as possible.  I, on the other hand, will ever so slowly peek between my eyelids and then close my eyes being very thankful for a new day.  It is safe to say that I ease into my mornings while Mark jumps right in before his eyes are even open.  However, getting to spend quality time together was worth leaping into this particular morning.

We were seated at one of our local breakfast establishments enjoying being with each other. Our table was next to the kitchen and Mark and I were observing how busy the waitresses were taking, filling and delivering orders to their guests. There was one waitress who rounded the corner when a cup of milk tipped and slashed over her tray onto the floor.  She glanced at the spilled milk and kept on going.  A few moments later she returned to the kitchen to fill her tray with meals for another table. She glanced back down at the milk on the floor and continued walking by. 

A family was being led to their table. I noticed they had a little boy who was walking with one of his shoes untied and the laces trailed right through the spilled milk.  Since we did not have a cloth to clean it up, we kept an eye on the spill to make sure no one slipped.  After a few minutes a different waitress walked by and noticed the spilled milk. She quickly bent over and wiped it up. 

I got to thinking about all the "spills" we have in life.  So many times it is easier to walk on by rather than take the energy to clean it up. A lot of our messes are classified as "not our fault" so we just walk on by assuming that someone else will clean it up.  However, our "spilled milk"  may be the very thing that those following us walk through and end up stained, or even worse, they slip and fall.  We have the ability to either be a support or a stumbling block. What is your choice? 

I Corinthians 8:9 NLV
But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

I Thessalonians 5:11 NLV
So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Born a First

Born a First
Carol Condon

As an 8 year old It seemed like forever waiting for the special baby that would officially make me "Aunt Carol."  When the call came that my first niece had finally arrived I couldn't wait to get to her.  I vividly remember the day my parents drove my younger brother and I to my sister's house. I walked straight to the white, wicker bassinet to see the little piece of creation that would become the first for many.

Tamara was soon shortened to "Tami" as she was affectionately called by most of her family and friends.  She was full of life and very little of her antics and accomplishments went unnoticed as she was the firstborn, the first grandchild, and the first niece. Tami proudly bore the title of "first".  In fact, I would say she loved being the first.  Her only sibling, Chad,  was born ten years later.  Chad would probably say she had an identity crisis and perceived herself to be more of a mom than a sister to him.  All of the cousins that followed her birth were quite aware of Tami and the tabs that she kept on them.  Although they were annoyed from time to time at being caught and called out, I have no doubt they felt loved, cherished and knew that Tami had their backs.

Tami graduated from high school and left for Indiana Bible College.  After becoming a college graduate she came home, fell in love and got married. The night before her wedding she injured her leg which signified the beginning of her journey with the disease of Lupus.  This horrific disease left very little of Tami's body untouched.  However, it never stopped her song or her smile.  She loved to sing and she blessed many with her beautiful voice.  Even when her body was so racked with pain, she ministered without complaint.

The doctors delivered the painful news that she would never be able to have children. This rocked her world as she so desperately wanted to become a mom.  This did not stop her. She proceeded on to research every way, within their budget, to have a child.  Tami and David became licensed foster parents and over time became parents to four precious children.  Her song was not silenced, her joy was not extinguished and her dream became reality.  She teamed up with Jesus and kept on this journey that seemed so unfair to all of us watching and praying.

On Sunday morning, three years ago today, I was on the platform of Turnpoint Church leading in worship with our worship team.  As I went to my seat, I looked at my phone and my heart began racing as I read the text that Tami needed prayer ASAP.  I ran out of the church and began grabbing people to pray with me. I must confess, I went from praying to begging God in a quick hurry.  However, within about 15 minutes I received a simple text of just two words, "She's gone."  

Tami who was the first in so much had one more 'first" that she brought to us by her death.  I honor her today for being the brave young lady that she was.  I do not know if I have ever met someone who has lived with more physical and mental pain as my sweet niece, yet I can honestly say that I never heard one complaint.  To my knowledge she was never asked to sing that she did not muster the strength to do so.  In fact, one of the final services she sang in she physically could not make it onto the platform so a cordless microphone was brought to her and her song went on. 

Today, I request your prayers for my sister and her family as well as these four precious children that miss their mama so much. There is no answer to give to the question that continues to haunt them, yet they still believe.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Table for Two

A Table for Two
Carol Condon

All throughout the year we dream and plan for when our family's calendar reaches the long awaited for days of vacation. The time where we put reality under lock down and unpack for days of relaxation and quality family time as we renew and refresh enabling ourselves to go back equipped to unlock reality and carry on our journey.  

It was toward the middle of our vacation when we stopped in a small southern town for some of their local chicken and biscuits.  We carried our trays to the table and bowed our heads for prayer over our meal. As I raised my head I noticed an older gentleman walking to a table carrying a tray that held a single meal. My heart instantly hurt. I just can't stand to see the elderly eating alone. I moaned an,"Ohhhh dear, he's eating alone." When my family turned and saw him they immediately told me to go invite him to our table as we were only five sitting at a table for six. I saw that they truly didn't mind sharing our family time with a stranger so I walked over to the older gentleman and invited him to join us for lunch. He took his hand and laid it on my arm as tears filled his eyes. He thanked me over and over but simply said, "My wife died." No other words. He choose to sit alone and I respected his wishes. I made it back to my seat but my tears turned into a sob and I had to excused myself in order to pull myself together.

His watering eyes spoke volumes to me. I questioned myself if this was their special spot that they stopped each Sunday afternoon following their morning worship service. Was this table their regular table? Was he reliving all the conversations they shared over their many years together? Were there regrets? Were there unspoken words? As I cleared our table to leave I glanced over to him and he simply smiled.

I couldn't help but think of how many are sitting alone unnoticed at a table or in only one of the two rocking chairs that occupy their front porch. Even though this gentleman's grief was too new to share with strangers his eyes spoke of his thankfulness at being noticed instead of sitting invisible to others. I repent for all the times I have purposefully turned from those that I could have shown kindness to but didn't really want to have my privacy invaded with strangers that were "most likely" content to sit alone visiting with their memories. We all search for His will in our lives but His will for everyone is to love one another showing them kindness that happens to be free for everyone to give.

Will you take the time to notice?

"Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another."
Romans 12:10

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Worm in the Mouth

A Worm in the Mouth
by Carol Condon

It was the beautiful summer weather that drew me outside. I had been enjoying the crisp air conditioned atmosphere in our home, but the sunshine coupled with the warmth it offered was beckoning to me. I had my sunglasses, ice water and iPad all ready for a relaxing afternoon reading session in the peaceful seclusion of our deck.  I started reading but the material just wasn't keeping my attention. I set it down and was perfectly content to glance around at the beauty of the Creation that surrounded me. The grass seemed extra green that day and there were flowers in bloom adding just the needed contrast of color along with tomatoes that were hanging onto each plant drinking in the sunshine as they ripened a little each day. The sky was a perfect shade of blue causing the white clouds to shine most brilliantly. The day seemed especially quiet, and time seemed to stand still as I soaked in the beauty that surrounded me. 

It was then I noticed a little robin hopping through our yard.  It is not unusual to see a lot of birds this time of year but they are usually flying not hopping.  I kept watching as it hopped closer to me.  It was then that I saw it had a worm in its mouth and that it was on a mission to feed it's offspring.  I began trying to think what it was like to be a bird.  How difficult was it to find food in the hardened summer soil? Did they ever try to serve something less than the best so they didn't have to work so hard? The grass was nearly as tall as this determined bird yet it keep hopping toward it's mission to provide nourishment to those that depended on it. 

As I researched further I learned that both the male and female robin care for their young.  Each of them take on the responsibility for those in their nests. Even after their young leave they follow them in order to provide food until they are totally capable of providing for themselves.  As the female robin prepares for the new eggs that are soon to rest in the nest the male robin keeps an eye closely on their "now on their own" babies.

Are we as committed as the robin?  Many of us have the responsibilities of our own children along with our spiritual offspring.  Are we providing the "proper" nourishment for them? Are we going the extra mile to insure that they are receiving the best of care in preparation for flying out on their own?  Once on their own are we keeping them in sight just in case they need some guidance with their new found freedom?

 In June I went from 4 children to 5 when our son, Jared married his best friend, Marissa.  However, my responsibilities do not begin and end there. God has brought me into the path of so many wonderful people and He has trusted their care to me.  I can not afford the luxury of giving up or giving in! No matter how high the grass I must press on. I do realize how exhausting it can be as a caregiver to others, but we must not get weary! Our Father is watching and offering the strength as needed. Rest in Him, He is depending on each one of us.

Galatians 6:9-10

And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, it we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Red Umbrella

The Red Umbrella

Carol Condon

I stood in the checkout line waiting my turn, and was drawn to the little lady in front of me as she waited patiently holding her red umbrella. She turned to me and said, “My knees hurt.” Moved with compassion I told her how sorry I was. Her simple statement was then followed by a question, “Are you driving along Sixth Avenue today?” Sixth Avenue was in the absolute opposite direction of where I was going.

My day had started off with a full agenda. Our van had been in the shop and as I picked it up I was annoyed with how filthy it was. I intended to see it cleaned right away. However, here stood this little lady with sore knees. I couldn’t reject her need. My messy van and further agenda would simply have to wait.

Her grin lit up her face as I told her as long as she didn’t mind waiting for me I would be happy to drive her home.  I settled her in the front seat and she began rubbing her hand across the dash telling me how nice my van was. As she glanced around she just kept telling me how nice and “brand new” my van looked. My previously voiced frustrations kept echoing in my ears while this precious little lady was telling me how blessed I was. She then began telling me her story. Her husband died years earlier, she had gone through cancer 4 times and now she is having trouble with her knees. For 32 years she has rented a little apartment and has never had a car. My heart was getting a work over! As I neared her address she asked me to stop. I couldn’t just drop her off in the middle of the street but she said her alley was really muddy and she was just going to walk to her apartment. I was so sad watching her cross the street. I couldn’t let her do that.  I turned around and went back for her but she was gone. She was nowhere to be found.

Tears filled my eyes as I began to wonder if the Lord had sent me an angel to remind me of my need to be thankful. I couldn’t even bring myself to wash my van. I headed home. Once parked in my driveway I reach for my purse and there in my passenger seat sat her red umbrella. Will I ever find her? Maybe not, but that red umbrella still sets in my van as a reminder of the day this little lady appeared in my life and taught me a much needed lesson in being thankful.

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18