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

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

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned
Carol Condon

Going to school and being taught the required academic “lessons” is not an optional choice in our country.  However, in many cases the lessons taught at home have been. I was blessed and privileged to grow up in a home where lessons taught were not an option. In addition, learning the lessons was not an option either.

Today on what would have been my Dad’s 92nd birthday I dedicate my “Lessons Learned” to his memory.

My parents were amazing. There were so many lessons taught in our home. Love was one of those. My parents loved each other so much. Their love for the six of us siblings, although very different in personality, was given unconditionally. Then came the lesson of respect. That was an easy one. However, it was a lesson that was not optional. In my 22 years of living under their roof I never remember hearing my Mom or my Dad disrespect each other by having shouting matches laced with sarcasm and name calling and they provided the same level of respect to each of us.  

Obedience was expected at all times and not just when comfortable to do so.  “Why?” was a question that was not welcomed nor often answered. Faithful church attendance and giving coupled with a Godly lifestyle were taught by example 24 hours a day. We were taught true patriotism and that it was a privilege to live in America, the land in which my dad nearly lost his life defending. Giving was a natural thing to do in both finances and in acts of service. The “supper table” was a very special place that we all met at each night and shared our day not our complaints.  I never remember a day that my dad just took off work for the sake of having a day off. A lesson we all learned was proper work ethics.

Probably one of the harder lessons for me to learn was Dad’s definition of being on time. On time for him was 30 minutes early and late was 29 minutes early.  See what I mean? I guess that was one lesson I never quite mastered and it never ceased to frustrate him. Dad never taught us to sing or to clap our hands. Rhythm and pitch were never one of his strong points. However, he did teach us to worship!

The last lesson I learned from Dad was just a couple weeks before he passed away.  He looked over at me and asked if I knew that you could witness to others without ever saying a word. He then went on to share a story that proved that very “lesson” as a truth.

Now that I have lived 5 years without him I ache at no longer being able to sit with him and learn the many lessons that he still had within him to teach. However, I am doing my best to follow his lead and pass my “Lessons Learned” down to my children.

Happy Birthday, Dad. You are still changing lives as we make the choice to live “your” lessons learned.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bullying Hurts

Bullying Hurts
Carol Condon

The young student was trying to fit in but that was not going so well. His mom and dad were great people but lived very busy lives. He took their busyness as a failure to fit into their schedule and even wondered if he was wanted or just a responsibility. Were they committed to him or did they truly love and want him? He just couldn’t be sure.

His time in school was even worse. He did not have enough self-esteem to even try to fit in. Most of his time was spent dodging the hurtful remarks that were hurled in his direction when the “in” students were present. His daydreams were filled with hopeful days of when he finally fit in.  Would those days ever come? He had been called more names than he could count. The “accidental” occasions where he was tripped and shoved added to his already painful existence.

When I heard his story I wanted a chance to go to his parents and paint them a picture of what their actions or even their lack of actions looked like. I wanted to go into his school and grab all the students who spent their free time bullying those who didn’t fit into the acceptable mold and teach them a much-needed lesson.

Bullying hurts and can ultimately change someone forever. Bullying occurs when a person uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker. By definition this means that weak and defenseless students are not the only victims. Our homes, places of employment, and sadly our churches have their own set of bullies. Those holding the authority over others have the opportunity to intimidate those in a weaker position and this hurts. However, what if intimidation was put away and was replaced by humility and patience? I am pretty sure this would be found pleasing in His sight.

Ephesians 4:2 NLT
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.