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The Grace of Giving 3/22/16

  • 2 Corinthians 8:1-9

    This is what our message on Sunday 3/20/16 was. It was quite a good message. Not about giving money, but of yourself. Giving requires personal sacrifice, is a proof of genuine love, places the welfare of others first. Gives generously to the needs of others, gives joyously despite the difficult circumstances you may be in. Giving is an act of worship.

    Well, two things happened over this weekend. My neighbor, Laurine, here in the apartment complex needed a ride on Saturday. Her car was in the shop, and they wanted $3,000.00 to fix it. So she is now car less ( I have been there) It was pouring rain, cold, and very damp when she asked me for a ride. Now, just to let you know, I do not like being out on a raining day, and will do all I can not to be out in it, but she needed help and I had to help. She offered me $5.00 for gas. If she did or did not pay me, either way, she needed a ride down the street and I said yes. As she got in the car, she slipped the $5.00 to my son, he in turn slipped it into my purse. I dropped our neighbor off where she needed to go, made sure she got in, then left. She did not need a ride back. So back home we went.

    On Sunday, morning, when the offering plate came by, I put that $5.00 in the plate and whispered a prayer for my neighbor Laurine. That left me with $1.00 of which I planed to use it for copies at the library, but instead, when at the end of service they took up another offering, I put that lonely $1.00 in the plate. It felt good to give, even if it was just a little.

    On Monday, both Asher and I woke up feeling kind of blue. Although we have witnessed God move on our behalf, there are still pockets that have yet to be answered. I worked in the check book making sure all was in place then we ventured out to find the markdowns at the grocery store. While we were out, I had a few other trips to make, and on the way was the Salvation Army. Knowing money was tight, we went in to browse. I overlook things, I look for color, texture, shape, size and things that are distinctly different and for things that are needed. Asher usually goes to the move and cd section and I go in the opposite direction. I strolled down to the back where the furniture was, and as I walked in that back room the only thing I saw was this lonely walker sitting alone up against the wall. It stopped me in my tracts. It was practically brand new. Tags still on most places. The little yellow tennis balls, still had there shape with no dirt marks nor worn down marks. There was even a basket on the front of this. I had to have it, my neighbor Maryann, whom I have spoken about a lot, who is handicapped with Rheumatoid Arthritis, had to have this walker. But I wanted Asher to confirm this and take a look at it but he was clear across the store. So I folded it up and put it in the cart, knowing it would not be there if I went back for it. I found Asher, he pulled it out, opened it up and looked it over, he agreed, and for $18.99 I was going to purchase this for my neighbor.

    I said to Asher right there, if she wants to give me $20.00 for it fine, if not, no problem, but she had to have this walker.

    Maryann is a very large woman, she is hunched over with her knees locked into the bent position. She has a very heavy duty cane of which she relys on to hold her weight. She swings her other arm to balance. Her sister gave her her husbands old walker, it was very large, very heavy to maneuver around and when Maryann sat on it her feet did not reach the ground. It was not right for her and she used it only a few times. He sister lives many hours away. I have talked with Maryann many times about

    getting a walker, but they are very expensive. So today, I felt like God wanted me to get this for her. It was fairly new to the Salvations Armys possession, I did ask if they would mark it down, they said if an item is in the store for two weeks they mark it down. The date on the ticket was like March 13th or something. This would not last for two weeks. So in the car it went.

    I had texted my friend and said, I must see you today at noon. Asher brought the walker into our apartment and washed the dust off cleaned up the basket, and in the basket was a plastic insert , a place for a water bottle, and enough room for her to carry things in it. We were excited to be in a position to have found this item, and even though I put this on my Master Card, I knew it was the right thing to do.

    When we got to Maryanns house, we went in first, Asher got her mail that she was unable to get from the past few days and brought it in. I told her we had something for her, but she had to cover her eyes as I handed her the kitchen hand towel. She complied. Asher went out to the car and brought in the walker and set it up. Maryann was sitting in her chair in the kitchen when I said, “Ok, you can look now. She was flabbergasted. I then said, ok, now get up and try it. I said I want to see how it works for you because this is adjustable . So she took it and walked across the room to another chair in the dining room. I said how is the height, she said, I usually gauge it to my cane, so I held up her cane to the walker and it lined up just the way it was ( hummm pre God adjusted). While we sat there and talked, I saw she had a card on the table for me with my name on it and a Happy Birthday note on the front, but I waited to open it. She kept saying, “I cant believe it”. I said I have to tell you the story. So I told her. Then I said, guess how much it was? She said I know what they go for, so I'll guess $80.00, I said no, $18.99. She was astonished, and she cried, I mean this is a woman who in 4 years has only cried in front of me twice. I gave her a great big hug. I told her to take it for a spin over the next several days and if we need to adjust it we'll do it next time we come over. So while she was talking I opened the card, inside the card was a Panara gift card. I said, AWE !. I said how much is on this card, she said $20.00. I laughed out loud, ( remember what I said in the beginning of this story) and said, you just paid for your own walker and we both laughed. God took care of the both of us this day. I stepped out on Faith that this was the right thing to do, all the while, HE led Maryann to give me a gift card that would cover the cost of an item she needed to have.

    Oh and get this, the company name was on the side of this walker, when Maryann saw the name, she said this is the company I was inquiring with about buying a walker. So God was reassuring Maryann that this was a walker she could depend on. My friend is a Catholic and has said many times she has no intention of changing. God has made Himself very visible to her through us and my heart rejoices!

    Giving is proof of genuine love. Giving despite difficult circumstances. Giving requires personal sacrifice. Giving places the welfare of others first. God supernaturally set us up to go to the Salvation Army this morning at the right time, on the right day, knowing what I would find, and knowing what I would do when I saw it. Maryann had to have this walker, and I was willing to go with out something in order for her to have it. And God knew it ! He had my blessing already in place as Maryann was blessing me for my birthday with almost the exact amount I spent on her walker.

    With a hug and tears of joy, my heart rejoices in knowing my God knows all, sees all, and hears the prayers of my heart for my neighbor, my friend. This woman will now have more freedom within her own home because of this walker. I cant walk for her, but I can help her walk, I can encourage her to keep moving.

    Not even Maryanns sister knows her like we do. Maryann hides things from her, but because we have become such good friends, we see and know what she needs, and when I pray, I always ask the Lord to meet the needs of this woman. I can not be over to her house daily, she lives all alone, with only Asher and I as her friends. I know that God honers my prayers for her. When we were getting ready to move from her neighborhood I was gripped in prayer that God would keep me close enough to her that I would still be able to see her and to help her. He moved us less than 2 miles away from her, keeping us on this same side of town. When I left the neighborhood I was concerned about winter for her, Asher and I spent many years shoveling her out, and when we shoveled, she would have hot coffee and cookies waiting for us when we took a break. My prayers went up, and I was determined to ask the neighbor next to her who had a snow blower, but who never shoveled her out before, to shovel her out in winter because we were moving. We moved out of that neighborhood in October, and I kept praying that that neighbor would remember, and God was faithful, the neighbor remembered and he and his wife made sure Maryann was free of snow. The prayers of my heart were also that there be someone else in Maryanns life beside us, now, she is friendly with these neighbors, and vice versa. They have only just begun to befriend Maryann, they do not know her as we do, but my heart rejoices that my friend, has them in her life too.

    Before we came into Maryanns life, she had lived alone for 8 years in her house. No one in her neighborhood befriened her till we came in. We have become soul sisters, we have so much in common. I was born in Hartford, Ct, she was born in CT also, we could have passed each other, growing up but I did not know it. My friend is black, I have never had a black friend before. We like some of the same things, and most times we think the same thoughts. She has allowed us into her life, but in the beginning it took mini visits to gain her trust. So on Saturdays I would go over and sit with her for 15 minutes at a time . If she was sitting on her deck, I would pop over and chat. As our friendship grew, I spent more time, then Asher began to come with me. The holidays were very lonely for her, and for us, so we began to spend them over at her house. We do most of the cooking. Asher and I bring a special move to watch, bring our small flat screen TV and we settle in for several hours of fellowship and food. Asher and I take turns doing the dishes afterward, but Asher will set the table with paper plates, cups and plastic ware, all matching to make it fun, from the dollar store.

    He also will serve the meal. Maryann trusts us to open cabinets, and go into her personal spaces. When we are there, we look for things that need to be repaired. Asher has fixed her bed frame that had been broken for two years, Maryann was sleeping on a slant for all that time till I said, we are fixing your bed. Asher hung her shower curtains that have been in a package for 8 years. She could never reach to hang them. He has hung 5 mini blinds in her windows. When we visit, Asher always takes her garbage out when we leave. She can be stubborn some time, feeling embarrassed she can't do this stuff, so much so that she will hide her garbage in her refrigerator, but Asher knows where to look for it. Right now, the old walker she could not use, is in our car so we can drop it off to Good will when we do our errands today. Love is being bold enough to know when someone needs something done despite a little resistant because that person does not want to put you out, or that because you have your own problems. Maryann does not have sheets on her bed, why, because she can not make the bed. So her mattress is bare with some throw blankets on it. We have done our best to make her home a little more maneuverable for her. There are some things we can not do. Right now she has two toilets that need fixing. Each time you use the toilet, you have to take the back of that tank cover off and manually pull the leaver to flush it. This means she has to manually do this each time she uses the bathroom. She really needs a plumber but they are expensive. Asher has looked at them, and they are beyond him fixing them. So for now , they go unfixed.

    Before Maryann would not ask, she had been so used to not having someone she could depend on that she either tried to do it herself, and hurt herself, or go without. She trusts us now to help her. Over these many years, she knows what we say ,we will do, and we will help her in any way we can. Maryann does not laugh much till we go over and tell her of our story’s and what we have encountered during the week. Asher will use different voices that embellish the story even more, and the laughter just abounds. Maryann gets one hug a week from me when I leave from our visit. In the beginning she refused them, but now she excepts them. God says “Love thy neighbor”. Maryann has become our extended family we will always look for ways to help her.

    Because of her handicap the other neighbors in her neighborhood will only wave when they see her out, but I see there resistance to being involved. No one wants to make commitment to help someone who is visibly in need. It is sad indeed, and it makes me so mad, but God sends whom He wants in the lives of others, thus He sent Asher and I to be a friend to Maryann.

    We will spend Easter with Maryann, she is providing the meal, she has to order from Swanson's home delivery because she can not physically go into a grocery store, but we will cook after church on Sunday at her house. About twice a month, I get her the grocery store sale paper and bring it to her, she will make me a list of things she can not get from Swansons and Asher and I will shop for her when we shop for us. It is a priceless moment when I pick up something she needs or I know has not had in a while, like a Banana, and when she gets it, she hugs it because she has not had it in a long time. She always gives us the funds to shop for her, she always gives us a list, picking out the things from the grocery ad. She leaves wiggle room and trusts me to pick up something for her like creamer if it is not on her list. Sometimes she will write something down, but not put her choice, so I will chose for her what I would chose for me if I were choosing that item. She laughs when I say, you did not make a choice, she says, I wanted to see what you would choose for me. It is such a blessing to help this woman, it brings a double joy to both our lives. When we finish shopping for her, we take the grocery’s over, Asher brings them in and puts all her grocery’s away for her.

    Maryann was dying inside when we met her. She was so used to not having others in her life that she had a key chain that said she was not a freaking people person. She is such a loving caring person, and God knew who would be able to help save a life that needed to be saved. Over the years, I have given gifts of books on God, devotionals, notes, cards and the like. She has heard the message, it is not up to me to change her, it is up to me to love her and care for her as I can, it is up to God to change her as only He can.

    Maryann never had someone text her before me. My day starts with a good morning to her as I know what time she gets up daily. She tells me, she always looks at her phone to see if I left her a text. We don't talk much on the phone, and do not do a lot of texting. She checks her phone only a few times a day, so throughout the day I will leave a message or two. I always make arrangements to visit, never just popping in, it is way to hard for her to come to the door and I always felt it was rude to just show up unannounced.

    So there you have it, another God moment in my life that must be shared with you. I hope you will be blessed by my little story and that you will look for ways to give to others.

    Always My Love For You,

    Leslie


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