Sunday, October 31, 2010
I am a Christian. Growing up as a Christian makes Halloween a difficult holiday to celebrate. It is all about devils and demons and ghosts...etc, everything that diabolically opposes "light". As a kid, I always wanted to go trick or treating. Dressing up and getting free candy sounds like heaven when you're little. To be honest, I still think it sounds FUN! For many years I was never aloud to participate in activities on Halloween. Halloween night was the night my family would turn off all the lights and go into the back of the house and quietly watch a movie. If the door bell rang, we would hold our breath and shoosh each other in hopes "THEY" wouldn't hear us and then giggled with relief when they walked away.
One Halloween my brothers and I pleaded with my parents to let us "TRICK OR TREATING". I think it's hard for parents of strong faith to explain to little kids why Halloween is truly a "scary" day, when it is so fun. I think we got to them because they caved! Well, you can imagine how excited the three of us outcast-ed "Christian kids" felt on the day our parents caved. There was a craze that went through our house. What would we wear? FREE CANDY!!!!!!!!!!!
Then came the set of rules. We weren't aloud to say "TRICK OR TREAT" for that was not good. We had to say "GOD BLESS YOU." I don't remember what my brothers dressed up as that year but I was Ruth. If you are laughing or don't know who Ruth was...well, you are not alone. Ruth was an amazing woman from the Bible, BUT she was an old lady. Why they didn't let me dress up as Queen Esther or some beautiful woman in the Bible is still a little unclear to me, but provides a lot of humor now at family gatherings.
Imagine a little girl with powdered hair and her mom's "granny" looking clothes coming and knocking on your door Halloween night. You open your door and hear,"GOD BLESS YOU" in a robotic submissive voice. You look and smile at and say sweetly, "Who are you?" The little girl with bright eyes lights up and says with pride, "I'm Ruth!" LOL
Yeah, Halloween is a difficult day to justify participating in and "celebrating" once you've studied what goes on around the world on that day and the history of that day. So what am I supposed to do? Hide in my house on Halloween? This is something I have prayed about and consider year after year. I trust others do the same. I'm not preaching my views or conclusions on this day but felt to share them.
This is what I do know. I am called to love people 365 days out of the year. Halloween isn't a holiday that my God created, but it is a day He celebrates, because He made it. So I want to be like Him. I rejoice in the day that God created despite what man has made it to be about. On the day that God created, I realize people will be coming to my door. If they knock on my door, I answer it! I don't hide from the world on this day, I welcome them today, like every other day, into the love of my home. I tell them they are valued and loved, and if I don't have time to tell them with words I tell them with my actions and warmth. These children that come to my door will not be sent away because of darkness, they will be invited and drawn in, because my light is on. (In all respects)
Deception cannot make us push people away one day of the year. Loving people is not the same as celebrating the holiday. I know people who use this day to dress up like a prostitute or pimp, drink a ton and say they are "loving people in God's name by not acting judgemental." That isn't true. That isn't what they are doing. I'm clear on that. Loving people like Jesus did, looks just like that! These friends don't understand the damage they do to God's name, but they also don't understand how loved they are, or they wouldn't do this.
I can't imagine Jesus hiding out in the back of his house/tent with His lights off watching a movie Halloween night because the Devil is running about. Nah...that doesn't sit well with me. I can know this by reading about his life. So why is His church feeling to do that? I'm not sure. I think it would be awesome for the church to truly recognize what Halloween is about so that they could truly magnify light on a day where "darkness is fun". I do know some churches are doing this on a deeper level then simply providing an alternative.
That said, I look forward to this evening. My heart is to love this world every day. This is not Halloween Day, this is His day! I can't wait to do His business every time my door bell rings. I have at least 30 seconds of face time with children He loves, to look into their eyes and tell them that Jesus is absolutely crazy about them. While I tell them this, I get to hand them yummy candy! Sounds like a win win to me. I also get to smile at their mom or dad and ask them if they want some coffee or cider and introduce myself into their life. Yeah, I can do this on other days, but it seems like "heavenly justice" to do it on this day! Why you ask? Because my enemy does not want them coming to my door! He's not interested in them being introduced to Jesus. He's interested in them being introduced to deception. Today is missions day! The day that deception is peeled back because love is just stronger! "He has overcome the world." I want to act like I believe that! Justice is overcoming evil with good.
People aren't evil, they are loved by God and called to great things. Some are broken hearted. Some have fallen on hard times. Evil is real and does exist but I am armed with Love, which casts evil out of the picture completely. In fact, He's knocked so far back, He silenced at the perimeter of my property. He has to watch love unravel and tumble all about, and be silent! That makes my house a safe spot for my neighbors. So why do I close-up when darkness comes? All the more reason to "Arise and Shine, for my light has come and the Glory of the God has risen upon me" Isaiah 60:1
Welcome to Missions Day!
Sunday, October 17, 2010
I have officially picked up. This last week, and the week prior, I nearly doubled my regular weekly sales. I'm super pumped about the Holidays this year. I have given up my social life...not sure if anyone has noticed yet though. lol
The sooner the better for Holiday orders. Because I have to depend on UPS to ship my blocks, I have to have an early cut-off date for ordering. November is a great time to order because when December gets here, I may have a break down...just kidding...kinda...of course not...well..just in case, it's best to order in November or the first week of December, or now. ;)
Personalized Ornaments are so cute and so very special. They are my favorite thing in the whole wide world to make and they look darling hanging from a tree. I made too many last year and now have the most beautiful tree ever. ha! They are $12 each and include a name, the year and a photo.
Remember, 15% profit from each sale goes to support the efforts in Haiti through the end of the year! I am absolutely thrilled to send off that check!
Blessing and Huge buckets of Joy to all of yoU!
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Several years ago after giving birth to Sage Elyse, my oldest, my heart grew for other children. It's strange how that happened. I paid more attention and found myself being even more entertained and delighted by children in general. I always loved them, it wasn't like I didn't like kids, but my heart grew, it just did. The second they placed that crying baby in my arms and she heard my voice, her crying subsided. Simultaneously, my instincts as a mother kicked into high gear.
I know most of you understand exactly what I'm talking about. Some of you may not have children yet, but I'm sure can relate on some level too. It's very human, raw and pure. Selfishness is forced out of you as you tend to continuous needs of a child so precious. It's hard and beautiful. I look at young mothers with newborns and my heart just wants to hug them. I seriously want to go over and rub their backs and hold them while they cry. lol If you're a new mom reading this, you're doing SOOOO good! It's HARD! You are keeping that little one alive and that is more than most of us do all day. Nurture is an amazing ability isn't it?
So yeah, my heart enlarged. I'm realizing every time my heart opens wider, the Lord fits something perfect in it's place to cause it to stretch out even further. It can be quite painful. I guess if that didn't happen the most unfortunate thing would though. I'd draw inwards, become selfish and begin focusing on my life, my dreams, my 401k. I don't think these things are bad, actually they are awesome, but God knows how unfulfilled I would be if I focused on them, and made my life about them. I can't imagine how much sorrow I'd hold in my hands at the end. It's the goodness and mercy of God to keep enlarging me, even though at times it seem too heavy and breaking open is the only release.
Eric and I have never had a lot of money. There's been times where we've had more, but never a lot. In one of the seasons of most lack, my heart became the most full. I saw a show that tore me up. It was about child sponsorship. Who knows whether manipulation with flies and the rest were used as tactics to extract money from people, I don't really care. The truth is, since then, I've seen the flies and those precious sad eyes. I don't care about motives as much as I care about truth and you know, that stuff is real. It is so important to find trustworthy organizations though since so many don't give the money where it is most needed. But in that moment, the organization didn't matter. The compassion in my heart did. I saw those children as if they were my Sage, my only child at the time. I was holding her, watching them and a miracle happened. My heart enlarged again!
We didn't have enough money to pay our mortgage each month. We didn't have enough money to buy groceries each week. We were stressed and in debt and too be honest, had a good bit of debt.
Did you know that when your heart is filled with compassion and you don't act, it goes away? I only know this because I've had it happen many times in my life. It does, it just goes away eventually. You get distracted and stop feeling that little nag and life goes on. You know what's crazy though, you know how much God loves these people, He loves them so deeply he allows that feeling to overwhelm you again some time later. And again, and again, and again it comes until you cannot move forward without acting. You have to act or you will be crushed under the weight of such love. This is what beauty looks like.
We figured that God was going to have to supply our needs any way, why not start believing for theirs to be covered too. We took on our first sponsor child. If I told you the money came rushing into our lives after that decision, it would be a lie. It didn't. We acquired more debt after that decision. That said, that decision remains one I'm most proud of. Every time I looked at my fridge and saw her face, my child's face, I knew my life was bigger than me and that my footprint now extended through the world. I knew that she knew, someone in this big lonely screwed world, someone loved her enough to prove it. And every time I walked away from my fridge and saw the abundance of my home and what I have in comparison to others, my financial lack was the furthest thing from my mind.
If you don't know this feeling, it is truly unique. I have nothing to gain by exposing our experiences but this, that you might know how lovely this world can be when we love each other and when we cooperate with compassion by allowing it to cause us to move. Little decisions make big impacts in peoples lives. Consider your own life. Do you remember things or moments? Do you remember when someone stopped for you, listened to you, loved you, valued you? I sure do.
To esteem value to someones life who has never done a thing for you, and who you probably won't receive any gain from, is the most God like thing we can do. We value people all the time for what they can do, for their abilities,or how they may improve our life. Sponsoring a kid is not like that. It's not selfish, it's raw and pure and beautiful!
Because this is a subject of great passion for me, I have done a lot of research on trustworthy organizations. If you feel inspired, it's a great time to act, because if you don't, it will go away. ;)
I'm not pushing any organization, but did post a really great one on my NCB facebook page. If you're interested in knowing more about that one or where Eric and I sponsor our kids, I'll be glad to share. Much love!
May your heart enlarge today!
Monday, August 2, 2010
Well it's been a few weeks since I wrote about Haiti. I've endeavored to plug back into life here in Tennessee. I'm still trying to reconcile what I became as a result of Haiti, with who I am here. It's a little tricky to look in my fridge and see mold growing on something that should have been eaten or cleaned out already. Throwing food away, scraping plates, emptying the garbage and other routine chores have taken on a kind of heaviness, that is hard to explain if someone hasn't had a similar experience. All that to say though, I've never been able to taste destiny so clearly, so divinely, before now. We are here but for a short time. To think how many people our lives touch between today and death, and how each one can be marked with a memorable love, is awesome. This brings me to live, to life!
Life really is very precious. Depression and other terribles endeavor to steal it's beauty away on a daily basis. My weapon against depression is thanksgiving. Days that I wake up heavy, remind me to enter into thanksgiving. Thanksgiving in it's true form actually repels depression. It causes my eyes to lift away from my lack, my disappointments toward beauty, toward that which is good. It provides a new platform to view my life and other lives, as well as their value. It's from this platform, I can change the world. (A lofty goal I know, but if I fall short...maybe I will change a nation. ;)
I recently re-watched "Swing Kids". I saw it many years ago and loved it. Not to give anything away, (although it is at least 10 years old so...) the German kid throws his life away to stand up against the Nazi's by swing dancing in the end. (Ok, sorry I gave it away. lol) In my youth I probably thought that was awesome how he stood up for his beliefs in the end, how he wouldn't be cloned by the Nazi's, how his passion overtook him. This time I found myself thinking, "Why didn't he save some Jews, stay undercover...do something for real? I mean if he was going to end up in the camps anyway, wouldn't it have been better if he didn't just throw his life away by....dancing?" It got me thinking, there is so much to be passionate about, but are we throwing it away, wasting it on something that is only meaningful to us?
Passion comes with a greater purpose than to envelope our own hearts. If I am fixated on MY vision or MY "passions", they can distract me from a compassion that draws me and others into something vital. It keeps me mind-locked in a small room with nobody but myself. I don't want to distract myself with all kinds of different passions, I want to be controlled by true passion, by compassion. This is what gets me excited..this is my destiny! It calls for me day and night.
It's so easy to toss away a day because I feel troubled/depressed/angry..or fill in the blank. That's happened too many days in my life, a mistake I hope to avoid for the rest of it. On days like that, something doesn't happen. Destiny stops short for an hour, or day, or month, or year. This life comes with a destiny! Whether I make blocks, travel the world, eat dinner with my family, or dress my girls for school...my mindset it what attracts my destiny, and allows me to live in a continual renewal of my mind. I prefer a renewed mind to the alternative.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Haiti has been all but forgotten. It isn't in the news anymore. There are no celebrities raising money, and for most people, Haiti is assumed to be back to normal. When you walk through the streets you see the hopelessness of their situation. It isn't back to normal, but far from it. 1.3 million refugees in camps are experiencing rape, abuse, starvation, and utter desolation. This is compounded by rubble and architectural damage on every block throughout Port Au Prince, Haiti's capital.
I've decided instead of re-writing one of the stories that spoke to this desperation best, I would just copy it out from my journal entry.
July 10, 2010
We hadn't even gotten out of the truck before these four boys came and grabbed my hands and started patting my hair. We had been dropped off in a tent city, it was across from the crumbled palace. It was like a maze. We went to meet with some people and hear there stories and hand out what little money we had. Walking through the maze of tents, I saw different faces. They would look up at me and smile and say "bonjour". Seeing into their tents, tents they had lived in for over six months now, broke my heart. Some had nailed together metal scraps, mixed with sheets and some tarps. The floors to their tents were dirt. All the while the four boy were following us back in, and working hard to keep my attention, constantly holding my hands.
I was walking past this one tent where I saw a woman (very skinny) sitting at the opening to her tent washing a shirt in this little plastic basin of water. There were four other women with babies inside the tent. My first thought was that there wouldn't be enough room for me in that tiny tent, but I felt pulled in by this one woman's smile. They wanted me to come in. I was a "Blanc" and hope is scarce for them. I was trying to get past the woman who was doing laundry and she wouldn't move. She didn't want me in. The other women started scolding her until she moved. Tripping over them I found a spot. This tent was horrible. It was SO BRUTALLY HOT, and right next to this stone wall. They told me, water would flood the tent, coming down the wall and they had to be careful it wouldn't drown the babies. (When it rains in Haiti, it is torrential.) They actually went out and got a fan from someone else's tent and brought it back to make me more comfortable. This was humbling, at the very least I could suffer in the heat with them.
The ladies one by one began telling me the nightmare of their lives through Blan, our translator. He was so awesome, I love him! Since nearly every woman I had the honor of speaking to had been raped in the tent villages, I started there. I asked if they felt safe? A couple of them laughed and said they had knives, but that yes, each one had been raped at least once. They had been robbed, abused, beaten, and raped since living in the tents. They had been there since the earthquake. (Over six months ago) One of their daughters had to perform oral sex on a man in order to get water. Her daughter was nine. This is common.
I didn't know where to go from here. I wanted to know their story, for it deserved to be told. I saw their value as if they were Jesus himself. I asked if anyone had pain in their body. One woman at the doorway told me her stomach hurts all the time. My first thought was she is hungry, but we prayed. She was still in pain. The second time I prayed, I begged. I called forth her destiny, I proclaimed her value and I literally poured my heart out before her, for her healing. My good and amazing Father healed her when compassion began to control me. With tears in her eyes and mine, she told me it went away. It was at this moment, the woman who had been doing her laundry felt to talk to me and tell me what happened to her. She had a baby a few months ago in the tents. When some men came to rob her, she wouldn't let them take anything, so they pulled her baby from her and left. I've had two children and I remember the extreme pain of when your milk comes in. I've often thought of how painful it is, that you HAVE to nurse, or you feel like you will die. I believe God made it so in those early weeks, so we would wake up in the night and feed our babies. When she was telling me that they took her three day old baby, I couldn't help but think about her emotional anguish coupled with her physical pain. I wanted to die, the pain and compassion was so great. There are no right words to say to a woman who just bared herself like that and experienced that. She told me that they brought the baby back three days later just to die in her arms that night. I bust out crying, weeping in her tent. I could hardly see her through my tears. I couldn't get to her for all the other women and children were in my way. I just kept telling her I was sorry, that I was so sorry. I was blowing her kisses and putting my hands together in prayer. She started to cry as well and we had a moment that will be remembered throughout my entire lifetime and into eternity.
Before leaving that tent, I asked if anyone else needed prayer, if anyone else had pain in their body. One woman who had been nursing the whole time spoke up. I looked at the interpreter and he said in a quiet humbled voice, "Aimee, she said she is hungry."
I don't know if I've ever been split open like that in my life. I had very little money left, but i left it. I had some candy and a granola bar..,I left it too. It wasn't enough, it was almost mean. I had two toothbrushes and as I laid them on the floor, I thought about how very "American" it was to think of bringing toothbrushes to starving people. I had no idea the need there. I looked up at Blon and said, "What can we do?" with as much hopelessness as anything. He said, "We can go buy some rice? Don't tell them though, in case we can't come back. Let's just go now." I felt excited about buying them some food. I blessed each one on the head, babies too, and left.
We went to buy 6 bags of rice and 6 jars of oil. It cost $50. This was outrageous to me. I didn't have it on me, but my brother stepped in to the rescue. Haiti imports everything and apparently someone is taking advantage of the situation to be charging that much for freakin rice.
Anyway we drove back to the tents and decided it wouldn't be wise to carry food past that many starving people. We sent Blon in to get the women and discreetly bring them out. They could carry the bags back. I felt excited waiting to see them again. It was like they were my sisters that I never had. It was unfair that they were suffering while I was playing my life away.
I saw them emerge and felt panic whip through my body. They had nearly tripled in size. I remembered the women, but there were more women and men that came out with them. It was like being in the middle of a shark feeding. Babies were screaming due to the chaos and yelling. Every person was so desperate for a bag of rice and we only had six. Oh Lord have mercy, this man starting grabbing a bag before it made it to the nursing woman and I began to yell at him. I started to push him as hard as I could from the angle I had until he looked at me. I yelled at him "NO, it's for her." He let go, which I'm glad of. In those situations I don't know what I'm capable of, but I feel so much stronger than I actually am.
I gave the bag to her. I soon realized that the woman who had been healed of her stomach ache didn't get rice. I walked over to tell her sorry, but sorry doesn't feed her her and her family. It just doesn't. She was gracious in her disappointment. As they all walked away, the woman who lost her baby, the woman who didn't want me in her tent originally, looked back at me. We locked eyes again and she blew me a kiss.
I climbed in the front seat of the truck as we drove away...weeping silently. It's just not right. Oh God, please send people to help them. Please don't let me have to live wondering how they are forever. Bless them, keep them...love them, hold them, feed them, comfort them....please God, have mercy.
July 11, 2010 (journal excerpt)
After handing out all the candy and toys, I was invited into this woman's tent who had a one month old baby. With no translator, I simple said one word..."Jesus". I looked at her. She was crying. Her husband died in the earthquake. She looked at me through her tears and smiled and said, "Jesus."
That's all that was needed for me to know I could pray for her baby and for her. I sang, "Jesus loves the little children" and the baby just looked at me. I looked right into her eyes and her babies eyes and I saw my Lord. It broke me. She showed me her hand-done c-section wound, that took place in that tent. I have never seen anything more horrible in my life. It was black, almost purple...completely and utterly infected (dried puss) and she was putting a bandage equally as dirty back on top of it.
Jesus, truly you were more beautiful in that tent then in any church in America. I felt your heart beat in that child, I saw your eyes look at me through her mama. I felt your essence pour out of me like liquid gold and yet, I couldn't access your kingdom fully on her behalf. But truly you are with the broken and the weak. You have not forgotten them. Please use me to help bring glory and hope and comfort to the people of Haiti, and all throughout this earth.
Oh God the need is overwhelming, what can one person do? I feel so helpless, so small in the grandeur of their pain and suffering. It nearly swallowed me whole. Lord, I would waste my life for them if I felt like it would make a difference, will it make a difference?
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Much fun is going on in the Perry household these days. Outside of record amounts of block orders keeping me busy, my mom came for a visit. We re-did the girls room, and re-arranged nearly the whole house (or so it felt) in two days. I feel as though I'm on vacation in my own home. HOW GREAT IS THAT!!! Thanks mama!
My supplier stopped selling the cases I've been using for the blocks. They may get them back, but for now they are gone. I had about two seconds of grieving before I had an idea; custom cases. Yep, there are so many great shops in Franklin TN and the surrounding areas. I'm officially on the look out for great unique one-of-a-kind looking cases. Here is a couple I've found already.
I've had a new idea too. What about dice blocks...you know for romance, or chores for kids, or game dice. Like, say I want my kids to do some chores. I'll tell them to roll the dice....is that like gambling? May be that's bad. I may try it and tell you later. Ok, romance dice...nothing dirty, but like one dice would say "kiss", and the other one would say, "nose". I don't know, always thinking. The game dice could be different activities on each side, for ideas when you get bored. I'd love to know your thoughts on dice blocks. :)
This idea came while sanding sixty blocks. That takes a long time and it can get awfully boring and dusty to say the least. Any way, that's all I guess. :)
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I haven't written about blocks lately, but I'm still having a blast doing them. :) Lots of little changes I'm making as this business grows.
I've added a new photo album to my Photo Album page on the website. I'm going to start posting the different supplies I buy for people who like to visualize their blocks before handing all decisions off to me. haaha
I have ulterior motives though as well and that is I'm posting the supplies I want to work with!!!! haha I'm leaving out obnoxious ideas and things that insult my taste of course.
Let's see, I am also going to add the blocks of the month. These will be blocks I just LOVED making. Blocks that are unique and interesting with a new creative element. I get credit for a lot of creative ideas, but most of them come from you guys, my friends and customers! I love all your ideas....keep them coming.
Lastly, I have added Puzzle blocks to my list of blocks. I posted a picture of a set I did a couple weeks ago. This was a personal photo. Because some photos just may not work, I've asked in my form for a "back-up photo" to be sent as well. I think these are going to be a lot of fun and present me with a new challenge.
Love you all! Thanks for making this first year so fun, so great!
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I was thirsty and I got out of bed to get some water from the bathroom tap. I had just learned that if you put your hands together just right, they could be a personal cup whenever you needed one. All I wanted to do was practice this trick whenever I got the chance. On my way back to bed I heard my parents in their bedroom bickering. I was seven years old and very curious. I went to sit down outside their door and eaves-dropped on them until my eyelids were heavy. I couldn’t understand much of what they were saying but I gathered there was a severe lack of money.
I immediately picked up the worry as if it came sweeping under the door to me and gave me no choice but to consume it. I lay in my bed for quite some time wrestling with the fact that I could save my family. I had a five dollar bill in my piggy bank. If they had that money, it would all be ok for them. They wouldn’t argue, they would be happy, they would feel better.
The next morning I saw my mom and my heart just welled up. “Yes,” I thought, “I will save my family.” I ran upstairs grabbed that bill and with more joy than is explainable, ran to my mother and gave it to her. I was beaming, “Here Mom.”
“What’s this?” she asked
“My birthday money, it’s for you and dad.”
“Oh baby, you keep this.” She said sweetly.
“No Mom, it’s for you and dad.” I insisted “I heard you talking last night and you said you needed money.”
My mom’s eyes welled up. I felt joy. I had touched my mom's heart, whom I loved. I remember her insisting, and then me insisting again. Everything in me was pouring out liquid love, the kind that gives you a high.
My mama hugged me. She stood up, kissed my head and said thank you to me. She took my money. I felt joy again rush into me. I saved my families financial crisis. Never had any seven year old walked as tall as I did that afternoon.
After dinner, I was playing with my brothers when my mother called for me. I raced down the stairs and she handed me something in a bag.
“What is it?” I was perplexed.
“It’s for you.” She smiled.
I ripped into that bag and there she was. My mom had bought me the most beautiful doll I’d ever seen. Her hair was so long and her eyes looked just like mine.
“I wanted to buy her for you, so I used your money for that.” She smiled again.
I felt that same rush again. I didn’t worry about the fact that she didn’t use that money to save the family. I didn’t even think about that. I was in love with my doll.
What I didn’t realize at that time was that doll was worth at least $30-$40.
Here I am, a woman still moved to tears by the little threads of this story that have woven into my heart and shaped me forever.
My whole life I would hear about sowing and reaping and tithing and giving, I would think about it in terms of the “reaping” part.
If you want to reap anything, you need to learn to sow. When you sow, you reap a harvest much bigger than what you sowed. That is how God is, how he works and so on. I have preached this message and I have personal testimony that proves you cannot out-give God. When you give, He gives back, and it is a lot more.
Lately, something about this message has bothered me. I haven’t been able to quite put my finger on it, but for months now, I’ve been wrestling with it. Something just doesn’t fit right. It’s true, but it’s not quite there. I was in church recently and they started in on this again before they passed the plates around. Some people might think it bothers me because it’s a message that could manipulate people if it wasn’t told right. That true, but that’s a whole other issue, that wasn’t it.
A couple weeks ago, I had a vision of a hungry man in front of me. His clothes were torn and I knew he was starving. I had five dollars in my pocket and there was a McDonalds across the street. I raced over and bought him some food and brought it back to him. Then, the vision shifted. While I watched the man eat, I felt joy unspeakable. The Lord himself came into my vision and spoke to me while the man was eating,
“Did you pray whether you should sow into that man? Did you pray whether you should give him that food? Did you ask me if you should tithe to him?”
“No Lord, I didn’t do any of that” I responded.
“Why did you run to McDonalds and spend my money that way, without asking me?”
I started weeping, “Lord” I said, “He was dying of hunger and I had money and there was a restaurant.” I was explaining myself.
Then He grinned, he threw his head back and laughed. I started laughing too, but I was confused. His eyes twinkled and he said, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
My vision ended with me in tears. I knew I was on the brink of new revelation and there is nothing like fresh bread to apply to life immediately. I combed through that vision over and over. He didn’t want me to pray about it. That was so odd. I always felt as though I was to pray and seek Him as to where to give. Was He saying I didn’t need to consult Him, when I felt that surge of compassion? What if I have compassion for everyone? Am I supposed to drain myself and resources and finances and time… etc…
I went to my Bible and began thumbing through the gospels looking for red letters. What was He like? What did He say and do when needs were pressing Him from all sides. He gave. He gave. He gave. Over and over He gave of himself and extended himself. Why did He do these things? He was overcome with compassion. He was compelled by the Love of the Father within Him. He didn’t seem to get resentful or worn out, although He was a man. He must have been tired. What drove Him to give of himself even unto death? He was driven as a mad man in love.
I came across John 3:16, the most quoted verse in the Bible. “For God so loved the world, He gave….” I stopped. I wondered, did the Father give because He knew he would gain the whole world? Was He like a power hungry emperor, rubbing his hands together up in Heaven saying, “I’ll give you Jesus, to get the world!” I read it again, “For God so loved the world, He gave….” His motive was driven out of love for me. He loved me so much He gave His only son.
So there it was, the missing piece; the absence of love in my giving. I have spent my life giving to reap my harvest, and I have reaped. I have reaped so much, I’d sow it again. It’s a great Kingdom formula and it works every time. The church seems to think it’s our hidden secret. It’s not. If the world applies Kingdom principles to their lives, they will reap too, and so they have. “The rain falls on the just and the unjust”
It’s kindergarten basics and yet we preach it like it’s the greatest formula ever told. The reason that formula captivates us is it speaks to our inward need to grow, attain and to have. That isn’t entirely bad either. When we experience gain, we can be a blessing. The problem with formulas though is they lack intimacy.
Why do I give? What are my motives really? I realized that at times, the purest form of my motive was selfishness. Many times, I was giving to get. I was promised I’d get much more than I gave, and from a young age I learned that was true. To think though, that when I gave it was to receive seemed a little self centered. What it would be like to give the way God gave?
I immediately started asking God to remind me of a time I didn’t give to get. I wanted a reference point. That is when I remembered the story of the five dollar bill and my doll.
The Lord said, “Do you remember that first time you gave? That was so good. Do you remember your doll? Your mama did so good too.”
The revelation came full circle. I didn’t give that five dollars out of obedience. I didn’t give it out of guilt, or because of “teachings on giving”. I didn’t give out of exhaustion or emptiness. I gave it because I loved. I couldn’t keep it. A need had presented itself. I was inspired to give by the compassion in my heart. I felt joy when that money left my hands. I wasn’t thinking I’d get something for it. I gave based on a pure unaffected undefiled powerful motive. I gave from an overflow of my love for my mother. My motive was Love, just like my daddy in heaven's is when He gives to me.
Then I thought about my mother. She played the role of God in this lesson plan for me. She took my money, multiplied it and gave it back to me. She didn’t need my money; it was hers to begin with any ways. She wasn’t trying to thank me or reward me for my good deed.... she went to the store and saw that gorgeous over priced doll. She couldn’t help herself. She loved me so. She had to spend Heaven’s money to do it and she didn’t think twice. She didn’t need to pray about it either.
We think when we give and the Lord gives back to us, it’s a reward. It’s not; it’s a reflection of His good nature, His adoration for His creation. We think we had a part with our five dollars. It’s all His money we are playing our life with. He put in place Kingdom principles so that anyone on this earth could apply and see fruit from them, whether they know the King or they don’t. The advantage I have to someone who doesn’t know the King, isn’t a harvest, it’s a relationship. I get to know Him and learn His nature first hand, by the power of the Holy Spirit. I get to resemble Him and learn how to give like He did. Any fruit that comes to me as a result of giving is simply a testimony again of how much He loves me. I get to know how much He loves me.
Friday, March 19, 2010
The people who I would consider my close friends are definitely neighbors. They love me, I can trust them...it's easy. Then there is those people who are not trust worthy, and who I consider to be "mean or other negative adjectives". What about them? Are they my neighbor? What does it mean to love them?
According to one of my hero's, Dan Mohler, the definition of loving people means to treat that person according to their value to God. If I am able to see a difficult, mean, angry, depressed, annoying, hassle of a person according to their value to Jesus, I can love them. To Him, they were worth His blood. To Him, they are worth His blood still. Whether I think they are or not, just boils down to how arrogant I want to be about comparing my worth and theirs to our same creator.
We live in a society where the way we treat others depends on the way they treat us. People have to earn our love. When did I ever earn the love of God? There have been many times in my life where I may have given you an example of how I earned it, but I never did. He gave it to me for free. In fact, it's hard for me to wrap my mind around how He loves us. How is it that He doesn't love me more than a murderer? He doesn't even love me more than a rapist, or a pedophile. Why? How can that be? His love for me isn't based on my performance, it's based on my value to Him.
We were so valuable, He died for us...ALL! I still have to remind myself some days, that my performance is meaningless in terms of auditioning for more love. I have all His love, I cannot lose it. He loves me every moment of every day, even in the midst of my "sinning". He just can't get enough of me. He is chasing me with goodness and mercy every day. He does not see bad in me, He only sees himself in me. I am right. I am perfect because He lives in me and He is right and He is perfect. His righteousness far out weighs my deficiencies. How do I even consider such deficiencies in the light of such perfection, such bliss, such LIGHT? How can I even look at myself when He is so big, so perfect, so beautiful. It's His perfect Love that tangles me up every day I consider it. My eyes are not on me, they are on Him.
If I can't love someone, it's because I have yet to feel the love of God in every corner of me. So, when I have a difficult time loving someone, it acts as a big flashing sign that I'm in need of His love. It's not my love I'm giving anyway...it's His. It needs to come from an overflow so I don't burn out trying my best to love someone on my own strength. That would suck for them anyways because then I would expect something in return...some kind of pay back or reward.
"They will know we are Christians by our Love." This is the only way someone ought to know I'm a Christian. If they find out a different way, that's fine I guess.... My goal though, my single goal is to waste my life learning how to love like He does! I don't want to learn it when I get to heaven, what's the point then. How does that help anyone?
This is my time on earth. Gratefulness and thanksgiving are my two single weapons to keep me from selfishness and Love is my gift that I can freely give. If my eyes are on me, I notice how people treat me. If my eyes are on Him, I can actually love in a way that resembles how He loves so closely, you wouldn't know the difference. My goal!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
All I want to do right now is practice loving people with no agenda. I just prayed that my motives would be pure and that God would lead me to someone who really needed a visit from Him.
I went to the first floor first. I figured I'd start there and work my way up to the sixth floor.
I wanted to be respectful of the nurses and their stations so I asked them at the desk if there was anyone who might be in need of a visit. May be someone who doesn't have family around. The first nurse, I'll call her "Nurse First Floor" teared up immediately. Then she got really close to the glass and spoke softly to me, "I can't tell you who this is, or her room number, but there is a girl on this floor that really needs prayer. She is in isolation." I said ok, and went to the waiting room across from that station to pray for her. How did that lady know I loved Jesus? Does nobody come there to visit? I was confused. I was in the waiting room for about ten minutes. I was getting ready to go to the second floor when Nurse First Floor came in to the waiting room.
"I just want to encourage you to continue on, listening to that still small voice." she said to me.
Then she hugged me really tight and thanked me like I had given her flowers or something.
The nurses were busy so I decided to just walk down a hall. On my left, in a hospital bed lay a woman watching "The price is Right." I walked in, introduced myself and told her I was driving by and wanted to come visit her. Her name is Faye. She told me she is so anemic she fell out in Wal-Mart and they took her there. We talked for some time and I asked her if she wanted me to pray for her anemia. She said, "I don't ever refuse prayer." I smiled and said, "I don't either."
I love Faye.
Stopped at the nurses station. They seemed a little concerned what I was there for. They told me that everyone on their floor had family visiting them. I thanked them and left.
Stopped at the nurses station. Nurse Fourth Floor started tearing up. "Really? You came here to visit someone? That is amazing, I have to find someone for you. Surely there is someone, come with me. That is so sweet..." she went on.
We couldn't find anyone. One lady was getting an enema and another had family. We went back to the nurses station and she said, "I can't believe someone finally came and we have no one." I gave her my name and phone number and told her if anyone came that needed a visit, I would come back. She hugged me, said a few more nice things and I left.
Riding up to the fifth floor, I began to ponder on those two nurses. They were so touched and nothing had been done. How compassionate they were. That is amazing to me.
I had the same experience with a nurse on the fifth floor. She pointed me to the room of this 87 year old woman. She looked really sick to me. She was all shriveled up, so small in that bed that nearly swallowed her small frame. She was confused when she saw me. I told her I wanted to hear her story and asked if I could sit down. She motioned to a chair and we sat for probably 15 minutes and talked. I could hardly understand her, she didn't speak clearly at all and she was hard of hearing, so it took that long for me to hear the outline of her story. This is what I understood. Her name was Margaret, she had four children, her husband was still alive, they lived in Franklin and she was at the hospital because she almost had a heart attack. I told her about my girls. Right before I left, I brushed her silver hair back off her face with my hands and told her she had the most beautiful face. She did. I looked into her eyes and all her wrinkles and saw her beauty. It caught me so off guard I started to cry. Gosh, she is sparkly.
I left, just one floor to go. I hadn't seen any miracles, but I wasn't there for miracles, I was there to visit and to practice giving freely what God so generously gives me daily...I was there for love.
I got off the elevator and immediately noticed this big security officer looking at me. He stopped me, "Why are you here Miss?"
"I'm visiting people."
"Who are you visiting?" he asked.
"I'm just visiting anyone the nurses tell me doesn't get too many visits." I answered him honestly
Before I knew it, another officer was there. This guy was shorter and started asking me the exact same questions. He asked me for my ID and went to the phone. I was left with the first security officer who was writing notes down in this little pad. I looked up. The nurses were looking at me like I was a criminal. To break this tortorous silence, I asked the big security guard, "How are you tonight?" He didn't respond, he just kept writing. Um....awkward silence followed, and more mean looks.
The second security officer finally came back, handed me my ID and began to inform me the the nurses on the third floor had told them that I was wandering the hospital and it was strange. I was thinking in my head that they must have been looking for me while I was in with Margaret. We were all just standing there and I was starting to feel emotional. I just wanted to leave. They said I had to wait. Apparently this was such a huge deal that I had to meet with the chairman of the hospital. He finally came, white coat and all. He was a tad rude. He actually was so rude, I felt more humiliation as tears sprang into my eyes. It was completely out of my control. The last thing I wanted to do was cry in that moment....ahhhhhhhH!
"We have people for that miss." he was referring to visiting.
He scolded me a little more and then left. I heard the security guard tell him that he would escort me out of the building.
Walking to the elevator like a little girl being accompanied by her teacher to see the principle...made me feel so sad. "I don't need to be escorted." I said. "I'll go."
"It's just policy ma'am." he said kindly.
Once the elevator doors closed, he touched my arm. He said,
"Hold your head up! You heard that still small voice and you obeyed. That is more than most people are willing to do. You hold your head up! Don't let this discourage you."
Well his kindness had completely undone me. I was blubbering at this point. I had went there to love and here he was loving me. Isn't that the very nature of the work of Jesus.
"What church do you go to?" I asked him, trying to get past the "ORDEAL".
He told me he was a deacon in this Baptist church downtown and then he said,
"Aimee, you are welcome anytime."
That made me smile and then cry some more. We stopped at the front door and he said again,
"Hold your head up. Don't be discouraged, you have no idea the impact your obedience had on this hospital."
I thanked him ever so quickly as his kindness had just hit a peak that would cause me to be crying hysterically. I held it together until I reached my truck. When I was pulling out, I noticed I was being followed by another security officer in his truck. That is when I started laughing so hard and crying so hard. What a combination. It was hysterical. I was embarrassed. I have never been that thoroughly escorted out of anywhere.
We live in times where visiting strangers in hospital beds is a potential threat. I understand, but it is so sad. I learned two things, probably much more, but it is only the next day. The first thing is that if I ever go again, I won't stop at the nurses station (just kidding...kinda) and the second is that we may never know or understand the impact we have, but when we obey, we can be sure it was great.
Monday, February 22, 2010
I just made a very special block for an amazing woman. Her name is Jill Locke. Here is her story!
Diagnosed with Colon Cancer in 1996, 40 year old Jill Hamilton-Locke has been battling this harsh disease for years. After 7 years in remission, she was told she was cured and could start her family.
When her only son was 18 months old, the cancer returned and has spread to her liver and pancreatic area. Since December 2006, Jill has undergone more the 5 operations and over 30 treatments of chemotherapy. Unfortunately the chemotherapy has stopped working, and the doctors are running out of options as the cancer spreads further.
Jill’s family, husband Brian and six year old son Nolan, have been standing by her side throughout the courageous battle. Life has not been easy for them. Two years ago the company that Brian had been employed with for over a decade, closed there doors with short notice due to bankruptcy. Now the family is left without any health insurance, and is struggling to meet there monthly expenses and insurmountable medical bills…
Jill is considered terminally ill. However everyone continues to pray for another miracle. As an ongoing sign of love and respect for Jill: Mom, Sis, Cuz, Jill beans, Jilliebean, Chillie Hamilton-Locke. :-) We have set up this website for online donations. 100% of all contributions will go directly to: The Locke Family Trust, designed for the care and protection of Jill and her family during these trying times as well as the future. Donations are non tax deductible.
I think this tells her story so much better than I could. I was asked to make her a block for her little boy. The top of the block is a book she reads to him every night. The bottom of the block is personalized with a note to him. It also has the things that he loves and that are special to their relationship. It was an emotional experience to make this block, as I am a mother myself. I am praying for her, for a miracle. I am believing for one. If you would like to give to a family that is in need of support right now, here is the website to do that through.
Jill, thank you for letting me make this block for you. I am believing for your healing! So much love to you and your family! May His great love, simply put....conquer all!
Saturday, February 20, 2010
There we sat, drinking in the sunshine, chatting, eating breakfast....spending our time the way we should have every day! I had to leave for work in an hour but that was still far enough away to relax.
I noticed the sliding door was open and I didn't want to let the air conditioning out. I opened the sliding door a little more to get the momentum to close it. When I closed it, that safety bar came un-attached and fell down......locking the door.
Panic flashed across both our eyes. There was no way in. We contemplated shattering the glass and then I came up with a plan. I gave Eric my cropped t-shirt to put on while I hid in the storage off the balcony laughing hysterically. He stood in front of my with a shirt that was about three inches above his naval and plaid green boxers. I watched him shimmy down to the neighbors ground floor padio and go knock on our 80 year old neighbors house to use her phone. She answered her door and let Eric come in to call my dad. She said nothing!
Then we waited........
My dad showed up with a ladder and laughed so hard he cried. "Where's Aimee?" he said.
"I'm in here" I shouted. Well, he laughed some more.
Up Eric went, in through our bedroom window which we had fortunately left-unlocked. I think I failed to mention that our door was locked and all the keys were inside.
My dad left the premises and I streaked across the balcony to the safety of the indoors.
I made it to work on time! Did I say this was embarrassing for me??? I'm sorry, this is probably more embarrassing for my husband. LOL
Monday, February 15, 2010
If there is any more snow, I'll feel completely jipped. There is a reason I moved from the north, to live in the south you know. This is craziness! Another day off of school too.
I got the call from the school saying school would be canceled tomorrow and within seconds of hanging up, my phone rang again. It was my friend who has children the same age as mine. A play date has never in history been scheduled so swiftly. It was as if, we were putting out a fire that was scheduled to be set. lol. I think I answered the phone with a "YES!" before saying hello.
Sage, my oldest who is five, told me today that she just can't believe snow has any good purpose. I tried to come up with some reasons for her, but finally agreed. She was right. My "good mom" moment passed me by and I succumbed to her skillful reasoning. Basically, in the south everything shuts down and fear drapes over the roadways with as little as a dusting. Snow is fun for two days and after that it has greatly overstayed it's welcome.
At least tomorrow, if the roads are clear....we will have entertainment in the form of a sweet little five year old coming to play!
Here is a picture of Sage and her friend Julia, on a previous snow day having a tea party! Sweet!
Saturday, February 13, 2010
My brother and his wife do a lot of work over there as well and so I have felt connected to that country for quite some time. I am setting aside 15%profit from all my blocks for the country of Haiti. I will funnel it through World Hope International, the organization my brother and sister in law work for.
It looks like I will be able to go to Haiti in May. I would like to bring all the money I have collected from blocks with me then. I'm pretty excited about going! I'm sure what little help I could bring to a team would seemingly make no difference in the mess that is Haiti presently. I have to believe otherwise though, for if we all did a little something, it would make a significant difference for sure.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
I've taken a quick break from all those Birth Announcement blocks. I've lined them all up on the desk so all the babies are staring at me saying, "you best be finishin up there on the computer and get me out to my mama".
They are right, so I will make this short. Little Grey over there has a really unique touch to his block. I thought I'd include a photo of it. His little footprints are on his block. I think that is such a spectacular idea and so unique. I have never done that before.
If you wanted to add footprints to your future block, you could scan in a photo to me or take a photo. Scanning may work a little better, but if it was a clear photo, you'd be amazed at how I can make things work. :)
I also added a picture of another one of my favorite BA blocks from this week. I love the flower on the top, it looks so dainty. This is an example of a "modern" block because it is so bold in color and print. Savannah's block also has a scripture added to the back of it. I think her picture is soooo sweet!
Saturday, February 6, 2010
My brother and his wife are there and have been sending reports back. The reports are desperate, haunting and so near hopeless. He said there are bodies in the street and when you see them that's when it really hits you; the devastation and what it means.
I've decided that for the next several months, I'd like to support them in their work in Haiti. My sister in law works for World Hope International. They actually have a base in Port Au Prince.
We will be supporting them in their endeavors there with our prayers, but I will also be using the proceeds from the blocks to support them as well.
I will be posting the info. on here in the next couple days if you would like to send money to them directly. If you give money, it will go towards the needs in Haiti. You just can't meet another human being who has a bigger heart for Haiti than they do.
Here are some photos my brother has taken while in Haiti.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I invented a new salad recipe to go along with our dinner tonight (pork chops wrapped in bacon and steamed cauliflower.) It was so delicious, I thought I'd share it!
1. Slice up avacados and place them on a plate. Add a little salt to them.
(1 avocado is enough for two people)
2. squeeze juice from a lime on top, enough to lightly coat the avacados. (If you don't have a lime, you can just use lime juice)
3. Add grated mozzarella cheese (light cheese would make this even healthier)
4. Add green onions
5. Top with Rotel Tomatoes. (This gave it a bit of a kick because of the jalapenos in the rotel) If you don't want it to be spicy you could substitute regular tomatoes.
Monday, February 1, 2010
I thought before I post "after photos" there should be a "before photo". I thought it also fitting to include photos of my girls coloring on the walls. Pardon the miscellaneous clothes and unruly hair. This was day three of being snowed in.
This was a mistake for sure. I knew it when I handed that grinnin girl a big blue crayon. I especially knew it, when I found blue crayon scribbled all over my entrance way wall. Hmm...., it's hard to call this but I'm thinking it was still worth it.
Watching them defy all the rules of my youth and color for an hour on those walls...was AWESOME! That, along with so many other things does make me crazy. (If you were just thinking that, you were right!! ding ding ding)
I couldn't resist though. I've always wanted to color on the walls. I grew up in a house where creativity was encouraged for sure, but not like that!!! If I did that, I may not be here today. My 5 foot mother would have hung me.
I'm not through with the play room yet, but here it is after a day's work! Just in case you hate it, just know you would definitely prefer it to the mess of toys all strung through the house like Christmas lights. Well, lights are pretty, it would be more like colorful and noisy debris. :)
Sunday, January 31, 2010
The last three days we have had snow!
Nashville had a blizzard. Lisa (my northern friend, and about the only person who comments on my blogs) laughed when I told her we had six inches of snow. She is from Indiana and thinks it's funny I refer to it as a blizzard. Schools have closed down. Even though it hasn't snowed in three days, there will be no school tomorrow. My challenge is renewed for yet another day. What do I do to keep the kids from boredom? We have gone crazy with crafts and baked too many goodies. We are now out of eggs, so we made those yummy no bake cookies. Haha...eggs will not stop this sweet tooth. I shall overcome. That said, there is no more food to eat tomorrow. I guess I will have to sit by the window and watch my husband chip away at our sleeted driveway, so we can get out. Here are a couple pics of my littles playing in the snow.
Speaking of my husband, I presented the idea of making our "middle room/guest room" into a play room. Like a lot of other home related subjects that I do the work for, he said "sure". Here was the clincher. Since I was going to empty out the room.....may be he might want to paint it. If we were not snowed in and experiencing serious cabin fever, this request would have been rejected instantly. Lucky me, the snow stayed another day. He smiled. He knew he was cornered, no where to run...literally.
The room is finished and fabulous. I'm not sure where we are going to put the guests...but the girls will have a room for all their "STUFF." It's this awesome green paint called "Sag Harbour" from Lowes. I shall post some pics...but to be honest my camera is downstairs. I'm up. Do you see my dilemma. Don't forget, I worked my "what I like to believe is a" little patootie off today.
So we have a record of snow and another record. I think this is my second blog in a week. Awwww....in spite of the weather, my productivity has increased! My goal is to post pictures tomorrow? I dunno, this might be too lofty a goal for me. We'll see.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I'm not very good at keeping up with this. I have an excellence issue and if I don't do something well, I just want to be rid of it! lol
It's a new year...goodness. Last year was fun but this year shall be more fun. I'm sure of it! I intend on taking the lengths necessary to make it so.
My husband and I are full time working from home. That is grand!!!!! I feel blessed and excited!
We are also working on our CD right now. Creativity is in full bloom at the Perry house!
I'm wanting to put some Alphabet Block Sets on Ebay and would love to know whether you think that is a good or bad idea. I've heard both and that leaves me confused. I guess it can't hurt to try it...
Here is some cute blocks I worked on this week for a woman that is doing up her nursery. She was fun to work with. I actually snagged this photo off of her blog. Thanks Renee!
This week, I'm working on a set of 12 blocks that have letters on all sides. It will be more of learning tool. It has some really cute giraffes. I'm better about posting pics to facebook. I'll do that in the next day or two.
Got some LOVE blocks for Valentines day....super cute!
I'm also working on tons of Birth Announcement Blocks and that makes my day. I get to see the cutest pictures ever of treasures fresh from heaven. So cool....
That'll be all I suppose. Blessings to ya sweet folks!