Porch and Yard Sales Are Opportunities for Giving

Saturday was our community semi-annual Porch and Yard Sale. The morning started with rain. Since we don’t have a yard, we planned to set up tables on our tree lawn. The rain caused us to move to our side porch. With our tables in place on the porch, minimal sale items flanked a door leading into our home. During the rain, few visitors stopped by before 8am. After rain subsided, more buyers visited.

We met a gentleman new to the neighborhood who runs a ministry for veterans. Three Christian-oriented books sat on a table. We gave them to him for his ministry. He was grateful. Later, a woman commented on a pair of decorative vases. She didn’t want to pay the six dollar price tag. We asked, “Do you like these? Would you like them?” She replied, “Yes.” We gave them to her. With a huge smile on her face, she offered God’s blessing on us as she left the porch.

A man interested in a printer stopped by. A black leather pencil holder sat in front of it. We negotiated a price for the printer. We said, “You need something to put your pencils in.” He wasn’t interested. We said, “No, we would like you to have this.” A smile lit up his face. He was grateful to receive the pencil holder, walking away, pleased with a printer and leather pencil holder.

A woman and her mother forgot where they had parked. The street names she gave to us didn’t make sense. I said to my husband, “Should I offer to drive them to look for their car?” Then my brain’s lightbulb came on, I knew the street they were looking for. I caught them at a crosswalk. Mystery solved.

Community residents stopped by to say hello, sharing what they were looking for. We weren’t looking for anything other than to find new homes for accumulated possessions that were no longer useful to us. Looking back, we received blessings, meaningful conversations, smiles and good wishes.

Many people live in poverty. They couldn’t put things out for a porch and yard sale. They need things from you. How can you help them?

A few hours during a Porch and Yard Sale reminded us of Matthew’s record of the words of Jesus in chapter 6, verses 19-21: “Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Where is your heart? What treasures are you collecting for heaven? What do you give from your abundance to help others?

Fairway and Greene and Garden Clubs

The theme of our local garden club’s end of the year luncheon was “Pretty in Pink.” I am not a “frilly or any kind of pink” woman. The luncheon was at our local public golf course. What better day to pull out my “Fairway and Greene” golf pants to pair with a paisley pink shirt to wear to the luncheon.

I thought back to the time when I played golf with my husband on the Golden Horseshoe course at Williamsburg, VA. It was so hot on the course that fans were blowing on every green to cool them down. Never mind that I was sweating like a plump pig sitting in a trough, the fans were there to cool down the greens, not the golfers!

I recall golf lessons at Orange Beach Golf Academy. At the end of the first day’s lesson I said in a “911” voice, “Find a drug store, I’ve gotta get some Epsom Salts.” My shoulder was killing me! Our second day of lessons included a round of golf with the Golf Academy’s pros at Cypress Bend, Craft Farms in Alabama. We loved our lessons and time there so much, that we gifted lessons to my husband’s boss. One-to-one individual instruction with Rick Trevino (a son of golf’s legendary Lee Trevino) was superb.

Our golf games continued at our home course, playing early evenings after my husband came home from work. Oh, there was a church tournament too. We came in second. I was the “putting queen,” playing with my husband, the youth director and a gracious gentleman from our church.

But wait, a few years later, we traveled to Houston, Texas for a meeting that included a golf tournament. A friendly male competitor remarked, “Your driver looks like an iron skillet. You can hit anything with that.” I didn’t let his comment intimidate me. Our foursome won the tournament. I won’t bore you with my hundreds of bad drives, putts, awfully poor golf and my love of observing a golf course’s wildlife more than the game. These things are a story for another time.

Back to the garden club luncheon, a newer member and resident in our community asked if I knew of any women who played golf. Luckily I did, pointing her in the direction of a friend who plays in a women’s league at the golf course hosting our luncheon. The two connected. I was pleased.

In my very old Fairway and Greene classic golf pants purchased years ago at a tent sale during one of Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Classic Tournaments, I loved combining gardening and golf at the luncheon, and the “swag” we received.

Garden Club "Swag" including Cayman Islands Rum Cake Recipe wrapped with pink ribbon

Garden Club “Swag” including Cayman Islands Rum Cake Recipe wrapped with pink ribbon

Even at a garden club luncheon on a beautiful golf course, God is working. The theme of this month’s “Alive Now” magazine is “Hospitality.”  Welcome all to a garden club gathering, a book club, a golf league, a shopping trip, or to a Bible study. Let God’s hospitality flow through you so that you can bring His Kingdom to life through a welcoming heart.

 

Let All That You Do Be Done in Love

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”― Albert Einstein

A friend has an uncanny ability of visiting when I am in the middle of a writing project. Today was a miss. Had she visited, she would have found the extra table set up with eight books covering three surfaces as I was researching and working on material. The last time she visited, she said, “Am I interrupting?” Never is it an interruption when a beloved friend stops by.

There may be an appearance of chaos, but underneath are still waters. The extra table has been put away. The pull out surface has been put back into its place, invisible to those who may visit. From eight books and internet research spread out covering every available surface, I have keyed over 2,000 words. I feel free, meeting a deadline.

Meeting a deadline frees me to visit family at Amelia Island. They are here for a conference. I will join them for the joy of a visit. The extra table has been put away. Eight books borrowed from protective shelves have been returned to their home base. I am free of a cluttered desk, for a little while. There are people who need a response, who need attention. Clutter will return, but hopes to resolve concerns will rise to the top of the clutter. I look forward to a beloved friend stopping by.

“Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14

 

Do All the Good You Can

It is Lent. Many people give something up for Lent. Others give acts of service.

Some people have nothing to give up because they desperately work to barely survive.

Citadel, Charleston, SC“We are moving,” she said as we were delivering a box of food. We probed, uncovering that the family was behind in their rent. Talking further, we walked to the rental office to find out the exact amount needed to bring the family’s rent up to date. The manager insisted on a certified bank check.

A short trip to deliver food turned into a project. We found angels to bring the family’s rent up to date. Driving from the bank back to the rental office, I read these words:

“Never let one day pass when you haven’t reached out to someone outside your home⁠—a note, a letter, a visit, help in some way…”

North Point Ministries founder Andy Stanley’s book, “How to Be Rich,” put things into perspective for me.  The book’s cover has these words:  “It’s not what you have.  It’s what you do with what you have.”

“Tell them to do good, to be rich in the good things they do, to be generous, and to share with others.”   1 Timothy 6:18, CEB

The Foodie in Me

The Foodie in Me

In January, we dined at the Walt Disney Resort’s California Grill.  It was the first time we had been there since its re-opening. A few years earlier, we celebrated my soul sister’s February birthday at this renown restaurant.

February is a busy time in our home. My husband is preparing for the annual conference of an organization he manages. During his preparations, he thinks we should have a nice dinner before he boards his plane for the conference. I’m up to my elbows with my own “stuff” to do, to file, to clean, to prepare but my “stuff” is nothing compared to his conference preparations.  “Okay,” I say.  We went to the Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s Boardwalk.

Expect Fine Food at the Flying Fish Cafe

Expect Fine Food at the Flying Fish Cafe

I was reluctant, not so enthused because of “stuff” on my overflowing plate that I could better manage if put on a large platter.  The Flying Fish is a favorite of my husband’s.  He wanted to sit by the kitchen. We sat at the restaurant’s bar, side by side, noshing on food worthy of any fine restaurant in the country, reminding me of a favorite birthday spot in New Orleans, Peristyle, where the portions were refined, delicate, and filling. After dinner at the Flying Fish a few nights ago, I have decided that it is a personal favorite in the world of the Walt Disney Resort.

On our ride home, I began to reminisce, thinking of Colorado and the Arapahoe Cafe where we met a young waitress I will call D. D is the mother of an  8-year old son who loves to read. She is a Christian mother living and working in a secular environment. We had a lovely visit, chatting more than we probably should have. D’s faith leads her life. Her son’s full name is made up of three prominent names that are in the Bible’s Old Testament. Remarkable. We pray for D and her son, thankful that our paths crossed. By the way, the Arapahoe Cafe serves good food. We noshed on some spiritual food while dining, thanks to D.

Arapahoe Cafe

Arapahoe Cafe

Question Everything!

Question Everything!

Ask It!

“At any given moment, we believe that [there] are 1,700 families that are homeless and need housing in Osceola County.” This statement is from a written report presented January 22. A speaker at “The State of Homelessness in Osceola County” summit said that one of every one hundred homeless children in America lives in Osceola County! The Orlando Sentinel featured an article on January 23, 2014, “Osceola seeking answers for rise in homeless families.”

Three days later, a Saturday, January 25, Orlando Sentinel front page “teaser” reads “Osceola won’t lasso big rodeo after all.” The last paragraph of the article states “Osceola plans to move ahead with the arena, which will be attached to the planned American Music Resort, officials said.” Does the county  need an arena and new resort reported to be part of a $1.5 billion hotel, restaurant, retail and night-life complex?

I wonder how many of the over 300 people attending the State of Homelessness summit may not agree with the county’s plans to move ahead with an arena when thousands of children living in the county are homeless. I certainly do not agree. The county would be better served by creating shelters, affordable housing on public transportation routes, and adding more public transportation to help low-income families.

Volunteers prepare food packs for hungry children

Volunteers prepare food packs for hungry children

While delivering donated bread to a motel the Sunday before the summit, we knocked on a family’s door. The middle school girl wouldn’t take anything like she usually does. She looked pensive. Her family was moving to another motel because of a rate increase. She opened her arms for a hug.

Arena, shelters, affordable housing, public transportation?

Ephesians 5:16-17 in The Message reads:  So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.”

“In light of Osceola County’s past experience, current circumstances, future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for Osceola County to do?” Northpoint Community Church pastor Andy Stanley’s current sermon series encourages all of us to ask this question for everything we do.

Osceola County, Ask It! What is the Wise thing to do for homeless children and families?

For All the Saints

I expected a normal time of worship.  The banner was carried in, signifying the saints of the church that passed to glory this past year.

During the service, there were many tears, the gentleman beside me, the couple in front of me.  Me, choking tears.  The couple who had lost a son.  A sensitive member gave a box of tissues to this couple as they returned from the communion altar.

We sang For All the Saints,  “For all the saints who from their labors rest, who to the world their stead-fast faith confessed, your name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.  Alleluia!  Alleluia!”  During a prayer, we were encouraged to say out loud the names of family/friends who had passed since last year.  My husband said aloud a name.  I was so overcome with emotion that I was unable to utter a single name.

We were reminded of the great cloud of witnesses that would be joining us at the communion table, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,’ (Hebrews 12:1, NRSV)

The saints, gone to glory this year, or years past, helped design and cultivate the path of my personal road to Jesus.  I am indebted  to them for the path they set before me and I am thankful for their eternal witness, though my heart aches for the loss of ones held dear.