The Homeless Veteran: Guest Post by Bobby Hegedish

Engaging with homeless people I encounter has become a joy and a passion for me.  My friend Bobby Hegedish has discovered a similar calling. I think you will love his story of a homeless veteran. Orlando (although a city like Cleveland where I call home) has a much different vibe than most of the cities I have been to. Ethnic, cultural and economical diversity paint the town colors that make it known as “The City Beautiful.” I don’t usually find myself walking the streets of downtown Orlando past 11:00 PM. However, walking the streets recently to where my parked car was located gave me a sense of being small. Surrounded by skyscrapers and people, from wanderers to third-shift workers, I had a sense of being invisible. But in a moment of discrete observation and contemplation, the city around me became like a scene from a good documentary. What happened next would have made a great scene in such a film. Muttered words I could barely understand came from a man passing by on my right, head to the ground and papers in hand. From when I was a child, I have had a particular burden for those who had less and the homeless. Regardless of how they got there, it was their reality. Yet in small suburban Cleveland growing up, there weren’t many people with those situations to interact with. “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40) Stopping in my tracks, I turned to the man in a split-second decision to attempt a conversation with him. I’ve tried many ways of serving the poor throughout the past several years: giving money or food, taking them out to eat, giving rides, and even a place to stay. These have been exercises as well as tests of faith for me. However, it is so easy to dismiss and project critical, judgmental thoughts onto folks like this man, who I found out was named David. These initial heart-level responses are inherent: external circumstances which trigger pre-disposed responses. Call it “flight Read more

Write the Vision: Guest Post by Stacey Thacker

  “And the Lord answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.’” (Habakkuk 2:2) A couple of years ago I found a kindred heart on the pages of God’s Word. His name was Habakkuk. He has a tiny three-chapter book in the Old Testament with his name on it. Maybe I liked him immediately because he wrestled with God. Or perhaps it was because of something God told Habakkuk to do, even though he was feeling fresh out of amazing like me. “What did God tell Habakkuk to do? He told the prophet to pick up the chisel and write the vision on a tablet. God also told him how to do it. The phrase “keep it simple.” Now consider that God had to tell farmer-turned-prophet Habakkuk to keep his message simple. He didn’t have a hashtag, images purchased from iStock, or even colored pens to make his message extra special. He didn’t have a Journaling Bible or a You-Tube video. He had a simple message written on tablets of stone, and God said, “Hey, Habakkuk, just write what you saw. Nothing less. Nothing more.” When God speaks we don’t need to dress it up or make it fancy. His Word, his vision, his instructions are enough. God told Habakkuk to write it down. And he did. I know what you may be thinking: “But I’m not a writer. I failed writing in college. I avoid writing grocery lists. This doesn’t apply to me.” Before you move on, though, let me just put this out there for you to consider: Habakkuk was a farmer. Peter was a fisherman. David was a shepherd. Matthew was a tax collector. James was a carpenter. I am a mom. Write the vision on people's hearts. You don’t have to identify as a writer to write down faith-affirming words inspired by God. You simply have to be willing. And whether anyone sees your words or you tuck them away in a journal like I did for years, your words matter because your soul matters. Writing is indeed clarifying soul work. And isn’t that what we need Read more

Our Loving Bitmojis--Just in Time for Valentine's

We would know we love each other if we never said the words because of the little things we do daily to demonstrate Read more

Lingering in the Word of God Brings Transformation

This is the third post from my word for the year—linger. What does a true follower of Jesus look like and live like? I ask that question often, especially as I read—and linger--in the Word God. Today I was in Romans 12—which is abounding with words that unveil the beautiful, character-growing transformation that God has promised to do in our lives. A Living Sacrifice The chapter is brimming with instructions to encourage us to surrender to God’s labor of love in our lives. So we will take a brief look at just verses 1-2, and hopefully continue through the chapter in later posts. And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2, NLT) Paul is addressing you and me as well as the believers in Rome: brothers and sisters—all of us! What he wants to say to us is so vital and essential that he pleads with us. Because of all God has done for us, he reasons, we must give our bodies to God. This giving of ourselves is no small matter—we are to give ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice. A living sacrifice? Clearly something different than the sacrifices of animals. What does it mean to be a living sacrifice? (Here’s a hint: We will find out what that looks like as we encounter the verses that follow in the rest of the chapter.) And a holy sacrifice? Me? You? Holy? Only because we have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus. And acceptable to God? Again, only because we have been bought by Jesus’ death on the cross. How does our Father receive our very personal sacrifices? As worship. Perhaps this giving of our living selves is Read more

Hidden Figures - the work and worth of women at Tim Fall

  For years I have been an advocate for the staff women in our ministry, seeking greater opportunities for them to use their gifts. In more recent years my friend and acquaintance circle has expanded to embrace many women of color. So it's no surprise that I loved Hidden Figures. It is a beautiful story of overcoming prejudice and discrimination to accomplish great things.  And I am grateful that Tim Fall invited me to write a personal reflection on the movie. I hope this "review" will get you up and on your way to see it.. Here's a taste, then head on over to Tim's blog, Just One Train Wreck After Another, to keep reading.   My stomach knotted. Already? Would there be trouble even in the opening scene? Three young black women on their way to work at NASA in the early 1960s stalled on the side of a country road. As the “mechanical one” worked to fix the problem, a police officer pulled up behind them. Cheerfulness turned to confrontation. My whole body tensed as I remembered such encounters in books I had read, in movies I had seen, in stories my friends had related. Gratefully “working at NASA” rescued them and the officer escorted them to their jobs. I attended the showing of Hidden Figures with the global leaders of Cru. It’s become tradition at the annual Executive Team retreat to take a break and attend a current significant movie. I asked why Hidden Figures was chosen, though there were other important films available in the same theater.... Keep reading: https://timfall.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/hidden-figures-the-work-and-worth-of-women/ What about you?  What emotions did this stir? c2017 Judy Read more

reading

Words of My Life: Reading-13 Books I’m Glad I Read

 

Words of my life READING 940 x 788Growing up I was either on a horse or in a book. I still love both and consider them my places of rest and peace. My favorite place to read is the beach.

I can’t count how many books I have read, though not nearly enough lately. Many of those books have had profound impact on who I am, how I live, my walk with God and so much more.

I have picked out 13 books I am glad I read, reflecting my years of reading. These don’t include some of the “famous” books you would expect on the list—though many of those could have made the list. But these books touched my life.

After you look at my list, tell us what books you are you glad you’ve read.

Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell—As a new believer in my teen years, knowing very little about the gospel and what it meant to follow Jesus, I devoured historical novels about the times of the early church. This book and others by Caldwell grew my understanding of what Christ had done for me. I was deeply inspired by the early Christians who gave their lives for their faith.

Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard—An engaging allegory based on Song of Solomon, about Little Much Afraid and her journey to the High Places with the Good Shepherd. At least four times in my life Much Afraid helped me through challenging seasons in my journey.

The Tapestry: The Life and Times of Francis and Edith Schaeffer by Edith Schaeffer—This account of the history of the Schaeffers not only gave me a glimpse into their family and ministry, but also a powerful vision of God at work in lives, families, generations.

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen—Nouwen’s extended visit at the Rembrandt painting of the same title led him to recognize for himself, and for all of us, that we are the prodigal son and the elder brother, and we are called to be the Father. This book especially helped me in relating to a community of friends who have prodigals in their lives.

The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning—a love story for the broken-hearted, of God’s fierce love for us. Manning’s books have perhaps had the most profound impact on me of any I have read, including Abba’s Child, Ruthless Trust and All Is Grace.

Invitations from God: Accepting God’s Offer to Rest, Weep, Forgive, Wait, Remember… by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun—a study of the healing and restoring available in God. I especially appreciated the invitations to rest and to serve. 

Not Less Than Everything:  The Courageous Women Who Carried the Christian Gospel to China by Valerie Griffiths—incredible stories of how God used (mostly) single women to take the good news to the interior, related by the granddaughter of Hudson Taylor.

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristov—a profound look at the status of women around the globe, describing atrocities worldwide and the hope that women themselves are bringing for change.

Half the Church: Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women by Carolyn Custis James—a compelling look at God’s call to His daughters to impact the world. Also by James, my friend and cohort: When Life and Beliefs Collide, Lost Women of the Bible, The Gospel of Ruth, and just released, The Malestrom: Manhood Swept into the Currents of a Changing World.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See—a novel about girls and women in China in the mid-1800’s. Some of our Asian American staff women gave it to me so I could better understand their cultural heritage and reality. It was one more step in opening my eyes and mind to the reality of women around the world.

The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible by Scot McKnight—This beautifully readable theology book calls us to read the Bible as story, with tradition rather than through tradition. McKnight concludes with an application concerning women in the Bible.

Intimate Moments with the Savior: Learning to Love by Ken Gire—powerful telling of encounters with the Savior. Gire’s excellent writing and storytelling take a reader right to the feet of Jesus. The rest of the series—Incredible, Instructive, Intense Moments with the Savior—are also worth reading.

God: Discover His Character by Bill Bright-  “We can trace all our human problems to our view of God” was one of Dr. Bright’s favorite comments.  So he wrote a book to help expand our understanding of who God is and what He is like.   A powerful picture of the God we love and serve. Other life-changing books by my friend and mentor: The Secret: How to Live with Purpose and PowerThe Journey Home: Finishing with Joy, My Life Is Not My Own: Following God No Matter the Cost  

What about you? What books are you glad you read? 

In light of the death of Elisabeth Elliot today, I would mention several of her books that impacted me; Through Gates of Splendor, Shadow of the Almighty, A Chance to Die (Amy Carmichael) and Keep a Quiet Heart. And this link takes you to quotes from Jim Elliot in Shadow of the Almighty

C2015 Judy Douglass




Posted on by JudyDouglass in Personal Reflections 7 Comments

My WORD(S) for 2014

scrabble-wordsI was thinking I would not do a “word” for 2014.  My life has been too hectic for several months, I am tired and behind and I have no clarity of thought for the year ahead.  Some hopes and desires, yes.  But not focus for how to move ahead.  I have so much catching up to do.

But when I finally found a little time to pray and think, God seemed to say, “Look at what you are believing me for in the year ahead.”

That might be:

More intentional time in the Word.

Time to read.

Finish my book.

Plan a little more for my blog, Kindling.

Listen to God about some new messages to give.

The focus became clear, and the “word” for 2014 emerged:

WORD(S)

I often speak and write about the gift that God gave me:  words.  So it is not surprising that the word for the year would be word(s).

I have no idea how it will play out, but here are some thoughts:

The Word of God in me: filling me, guiding me, teaching me, empowering me.

Words I read:  I have a stack of books on my bookshelf and a long list on my Kindle.  Reading has been limited this past year, and I feel the need to re-engage with words others have written.

Words I write:  The past few months I have been a little haphazard with Kindling, mostly writing whatever I am thinking about that day.  I would like to be more intentional and coordinated.  And a little focused time should enable me to finish a first draft of a book I really care about.

Words I speak:  I do a lot of speaking, and am grateful for favorite messages that God keeps using.  But I believe God might have some new words for me.  And I desire to speak words of affirmation, encouragement, hope to the people in my life.

I am claiming that wonderful truth in John 1:14: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

So, I am asking the Living Word to indwell me and every word I read or write or speak. And may my words “always be seasoned with grace…” (Colossians 4:6)

What about you?  What is your word for 2014?

C2014 Judy Douglass




Posted on by JudyDouglass in Becoming Kindling, Personal Reflections 17 Comments

More Transforming Reads–6

bookshelf full of booksA sad truth—I have not read very much in the past year.

I realized I hadn’t added to my Transforming Reads here at Kindling in well over a year.  When I started searching for what I had read, the list is pretty short.  Probably there are a few I’m missing.

But here are some of the books I have read recently that I hope encourage you.

Lives that Inspire

Meeting Miss Irby by Josh Irby

This is a perfect read.  I love:

A good story–and this is a great story.

History–and this story tells me history I knew nothing about.

Women who use their gifts to accomplish good–and Miss Irby does that in amazing ways.

And I love that Josh Irby is sharing the discovery of his great relative with us in such a captivating way.

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Posted on by JudyDouglass in Becoming Kindling 4 Comments

Beach Walk and God Talk—The Reality

woman walking on beachI think it’s good to have a plan.  To know the primary things you hope to do, experience, enjoy on a personal retreat.

I equally know not to set that plan in any kind of firm condition.

So I go with a loose structure, some general plans, a probable schedule.  And since one major objective for me was to work on a book based on my writings for my Prayer for Prodigals friends, five afternoons seemed reasonable to make some progress.

God always has surprises—new agendas, detours, people to talk with.  Like the time I met Babe, the octogenarian who spends a couple of hours every afternoon sitting in her scooter on the bridge to the beach, enjoying God’s ocean.  We spent hours talking—you can read her story here and here.

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Windows Open Up Your World

Woman looking through windowI am a fan of windows.  I love light coming in and I love looking out.  I enjoy feeling like I’m outside while comfortable in my air conditioning (I do live in Florida).  So newer houses in Florida are great—lots and lots of windows.

I especially love my Florida room—it is almost all windows.  We can look out into the woods behind our home, watch the raccoons sneaking after the cat food, listen to the frogs and alligators and enjoy the deer who often nap in our back yard.

Windows for Mind and Heart

I am also a fan of windows for the mind and heart—to let light in, to welcome new ideas, to shake up thinking, to foster dreams.

There is a danger in my place in life of closing the blinds and drawing the shades. I serve/lead in a ministry—at the headquarters. When you are out in “the field” where you daily encounter those you want to engage with the gospel, you can’t help but keep some windows open.  You interact daily with people who have different ideas, worldviews, beliefs, perspectives.

My days, however, are spent with women and men who mostly believe as I do, who are committed to the same values, the same purpose, the same God.  We might think we know the Light and have the light, so we don’t need windows.

But we do.  We need let God shine His light into the recesses of our hearts and minds, unveiling depths of His love and character and desire for redemption and reconciliation.  I need to admit that I do not know it all and that I desperately need for God to keep enlightening me with His very different way of thinking.

Reading Brings Light

A major window for me is reading.  Books—old and new, deeply theological or profoundly personal—pull up the shades, throw back the shutters and open wide the windows of my mind and heart.  Good writing expands, enlarges, enlightens—I am challenged with new thoughts and attitudes and opportunities.

People with Different Perspectives

A recent great source of light for my mind and heart has been time in the blogosphere.  As I read broadly, my thinking is broadened and my love is stretched.  So I intentionally read authors I know I probably don’t agree with, as well as those I resonate with on most issues.  And oh how God has used these new sources of light to reveal more of Himself and how He wants to live though me in this world.

Encountering New Situations

For a reader/writer/introvert like me, I could easily stay indoors, with open windows, and think I am getting all the light I need.  But God knew better.  So he sent a son to us who opened doors and windows to us that we would never have thought we would enter.

These have been dark places—places of abuse and abandonment, of poverty and crime and addiction, of desperate moms and their fatherless children, of homelessness and hopelessness.  My glimpses into these shadows have brought new light to my eyes.  In these murky places God has shown me the light of His love—and asked me to be a window to let his light in to dispel the gloom.

Traveling to New Places

My job takes me all over the world, so I have had my mind and heart expanded as I have engaged with people from different cultures, diverse traditions, other religions.  But I can also find the same opportunities down the street or around the corner in my community.  Recently I have had numerous conversations with homeless people, truly opening new windows in my life.

For me, and I hope for you, opening windows to the streaming light of God illuminates how God wants to use us. We see open doors we had never noticed and we have the courage to venture through them.

Of course, then the battle intensifies, and the Prince of Darkness spreads his black clouds.  Gratefully the Holy Spirit of God sends Holy Light to enable us to stand strong—up on the windowsill, ready to fly.

So open the windows! Can you feel the fresh air?  Can you hear God better?  What is He saying?  Do you see the door opening on a bold path?  Will you step through and risk it?

He can see the future and He promises to go with you.

What about you? Are your windows open?  What do you see?

C2013 Judy Douglass

 




Posted on by JudyDouglass in Becoming Kindling 2 Comments