Archive for April, 2017


 I made my way to one of the few empty seats left in a mostly filled party room.  The table was set perfectly and came complete with a fan folded fancy napkin and a beautiful live rose bouquet centerpiece.

The woman next to me asked my name and seemed genuinely interested in knowing me personally.  A group of what appeared to be a trio of close friends sat to my left but included me in their conversations as well.

The speaker began to speak and the coordinators of the Uniontown Hospital Volunteers stood giving accolades, honor, and respect to those who’ve given their time to serve others.  They spoke of their vision for us and for others they hope to serve.  We heard about the ongoing, long-awaited, long-term plans to remake their facility into a place where people feel much more comfortable, much more cared for, and much more welcome than they ever have before.  Clearly, the main goal these leaders have in mind is the people they have the privilege of serving and how they are treated as much as it depends on us.

The paper in front of me said, “Thank you.”  I was taken aback by how much it meant just to read these words knowing they were for me, too.  I was caught off guard by the tears that suddenly filled my eyes when my name was unexpectedly called and someone with lots of more important things to do actually took the time to shake my hand, look me in the face, and thank me for doing something I would have done without such elaborate displays of gratitude.  But what surprised me the most, I think, was how truly genuine the appreciation given to me for serving the hospital in a small, simple way really was.

Before I sat down and took it all in, I didn’t know how much I needed to hear the words they said.  I didn’t know how thankful I would be when I was appreciated.  I didn’t realize how long it had been since anyone in particular had really seen any value or validity in the things I know God calls us all to do.  I am here to say, Uniontown Hospital did.  They do.  So bravo, UH, you’re doing it right.  I think you can tell a whole lot about an organization by how they treat the lowest persons on the totem pole.

So I wanted to publically thank UH for treating its volunteers with such a high level of care and appreciation.  The treatment given to me – a once a week prayer girl – is a very telling reflection of how serious and concerned they are for the care and service shown to their patients.  It is a good indication of the good things going on in every other department.

As I was considering this, I couldn’t help but look around the room and make some observations.  By and large, the majority of the volunteers are elderly women.  Where were the retirement-aged men?  Where is my generation?  And where is everyone in between?

Time is so very precious on this earth.  I remember that every time I pray with a dying patient and it keeps me honest about the brevity of life.  Every single day has to count.  Time is so much more valuable than money so it must be spent all the more wisely.

The volunteers were recognized by how many hours they’ve served.  I wonder how many hours I have logged for the Lord in this lifetime.  I wonder how many I have wasted selfishly.  I wonder how much time I have used rightly.  I wonder how much you have. I wonder where my generation is.  I wonder who will step into these ladies’ shoes.  Because in a world where everyone seems to be too big for their own britches, these shoes are very, very small.  They are the shoes of a servant.  So I wonder what it will be like when my kids are grown.  I wonder if anyone is teaching them to live a life worthy of appreciation – regardless of whether they receive a thank you or not.  I wonder if anyone is teaching them how to be appreciative.

I don’t know, but I do know this: you cannot outgive God. Giving and serving comes back to us twice.  Once when we realize that we truly have made a positive difference in someone else’s life and once again when it is appreciated by others who recognize its value.

 The appreciation given for the good things people do is really encouraging, but I also find it quite sobering.  How much do I really do for others as opposed to myself?  So very little. There is no doubt I will go from this life ashamed of how much time I wasted on frivolity and fruitlessness.  Even still, I have today and so do you.  In the end the Lord will not let our service to Him and others go unnoticed.


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“Why did you want to be a cheerleader?”

“Because on the picture they look so happy.  But, like, they are smiling but they aren’t…really…happy.”

At age 9, my daughter has figured out that not everyone who smiles is happy.  She feels ripped off by this pretense because she was expecting something that didn’t deliver.  If being a cheerleader is not what makes people happy, then what does?  This is the existential question she is working through at present.

Isn’t that the question we’re all asking?  Especially when and if those things which we have invested our time, money, heart, and soul in have not produced favorable or expected results; when we don’t reap what we have sown; when what we’re striving for and pouring into amounts to nothing more than another disappointment.  At the end of the day her question is our question.  What is the true key to happiness and how can I find it?  The happy door is locked and even though I knock, no one ever answers.

Growing up is hard.  With all the changes a little girl has to face, she can be left feeling lost and as if she could just find the key to this one single door, life would work and all would be as it was when she could play all day in the sun without a care in the world.

As I load the pompoms into the trunk and place them next to my boxing gloves, I consider her question.

We moms wear a lot of different hats.  I cannot even tell you how strange it is for me to practice fake smiles and tiny stunts at dusk and wake up hitting mitts at dawn.  I feel seriously stretched and sometimes conflicted.  These things do not seem to fit together to me.  But, in this moment seeing my gloves next to my pompoms, I realized the very real necessity of both.

Both at the same time, spiritually speaking, that is.

Sometimes, joy is like a river flowing in, through, and out of our lives as naturally as the dance moves done daily by my little divas.  Other times, though, we have to fight for joy as if the enemy were trying to take our title belt.  When a quick 1-2 knocks us down and we stand back up in confidence only to be knocked down again, joy is not just going to stand smiling while we bleed out.  No.  After lots of hard blows, we have to fight fierce for joy’s victory to be found on our faces.  If we do not want to end up faking feelings and resorting to fooling faces, we have to fight for real felicity.

The good news is that true joy does not depend on how many jerks jab at us.  True joy depends on how well we remember our cheerleading spirit – the Holy Spirit that is.  He is the key who unlocks the door of joy.  He is our comforter, our deposit – our guarantee of good things, the seal that stamps us “owned,” and our confidence that nothing we do for God’s glory is ever a waste of time.  Those are the things little girls like me need to remember.

Not everyone who smiles is happy.  Not everyone who fights is a cheerleader and not everyone who cheers is a fighter.  I guess we cheerleading fighters are a bit of a rare breed, but one thing is for sure.  Everyone who possesses true joy cheers in their fight and fights for their cheer.  These are they who win.

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Paul spends the better part of 2 Corinthians 11 and 12 “boasting.”  Why would he do that?  Why did he do that – even calling himself foolish and a madman as he did it?

False “brethren” – false “apostles” – more or less false “friends” had come into the Corinthian church.  They were not only maligning the gospel, but also pointedly maligning Paul himself.  Paul steps up to the plate to defend himself based on the facts of his own example.  He uses his hardship and weakness as his boast.  He speaks of all the right and reasons he had to be heard by his church.

The truth is, he never should have had to do this.  His church should have defended him when these false frenemies came to tear him (and them!) down.  If anyone was worthy of their loyalty, it was Paul.  No one loved them more than he did save Christ.  This man would have given his life for theirs.  How could they not see the truth?  How could they be so blind?

He begins by showing them that he has all the qualifications they use to disqualify people who do not.  He shares all the pain he personally had endured for the sake of the gospel and for them.  He talks about a persistent problem he deals with in his own life – his “thorn.”  These are his “boasts.”

In chapter 12 Paul tells his church that he has been a fool to elaborate on such things, but that it was they that “forced him to it.”  How so?

His reason for speaking so foolishly and boasting in his weaknesses was because his own church had forsaken him.  Consider that.

The Corinthian church knew Paul very well.  They knew he was qualified to lead them.  They knew what he had risked, endured, and lost for the sake of the gospel and for Christ.  They surely knew these facts well.  He feels particularly inclined to remind them because they surely should have loved him.  They should have listened to him.  They should have remembered him and his true words when false brothers came in and slandered him and the gospel itself.

Paul’s church did not defend him.  They listened instead to liars who they did not know from Adam.  They followed false men with a false gospel whose primary goal was to discredit Paul himself so that they could take control of the church.

Paul’s church did not defend him so he defends himself.  He’s talking crazy because their utter foolishness is making him crazy!  He’s saying, “Hey, guys!  Remember me?  The guy who taught you the gospel?  I am not inferior to these troublemaking false new best friends of yours.  I am noone special but, with God as my witness, I am a true friend to you and to God.  Did you see the signs he gave me?  I know you did.  I don’t want your money or your positions or whatever it is you think I’m going to take away from you.  I want your heart.  Show me your heart.”

“…for I seek not what is yours but you…” ~2 Corinthians 12:14

You guys think I’m here to take something away from you or hurt you.  I am not seeking what belongs to you.  I am seeking YOU!  Sounds like something Jesus would say…

“Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved.” ~2 Corinthians 12:19

You think I am defending myself?  This foolish defense is for YOU!!! It is for your growth, church.  BELOVED church.  Please.  Please do not let me show up and see you unrepentant.  This is my third visit to you.  I warned you.  There are no more warnings.  Warning time is over.  Examine yourselves.  See if you are truly in the faith.  I want you to be restored.  Here is the only way that is going to happen:

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All the saints greet you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” ~2 Corinthians 13:11-14

Rejoice.  Restore.  Comfort each other.  Agree.  Live in peace.  Please.  Church, please.

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In 2 Chronicles 25, we find a young man who has been appointed to leadership.  Amaziah was 25 years old when his father was killed and he became king of Judah.  This is how the text describes him:

And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet not with a whole heart. ~2 Chronicles 25:2

Do you know anyone like this?  These ones are half-hearted, half-committed living in halfway halftime all the time.  It’s no way to be in any area of life, but when it comes to spiritual matters, halfway halftime will never cut it.  Let’s learn from one who did it wrong.

Apparently Amaziah wasn’t all in when it came to his dealing and disposition toward God.  It sounds like he just got by with a few good deeds here and there and perhaps a friendly front in regards to his maker.  Matthew Henry says, “The general character of Amaziah: He did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, worshiped the true God, kept the temple service a going, and countenanced religion in his kingdom; but he did not do it with a perfect heart, that is, he was not a man of serious piety or devotion himself, nor had he any zeal for the exercises of religion.  He was not enemy to it, but a cool and indifferent friend.”

This chapter tells us of a couple things Amaziah did and it reveals his not so whole heart in the process.  The first thing we are told is that Amaziah obeyed the law of Moses by sparing the children of those who assassinated his father.  Next, we learn that he calls the army of Israel to help him in battle, but reneges at the counsel of a prophet.  He actually pays these guys to come fight with his army and then, because the prophet warns him to trust in God instead, he sends them home.

One has to wonder why he called these guys in the first place.

Amaziah was going out to fight the Edomites.  This was a people known for their idolatry.  They were the descendants of Esau – Jacob’s twin who sold his birthright for a bowl of soup.  Anyway, just 50 or 60 years prior to this conquest, Judah’s army had been 3 or 4 times more numerous.  Sin had so enveloped these people that their army’s number was one fourth what it had just previously been.  “Sin weakens a people, diminishes them, dispirits them, and lessens their number and figure.”  Matthew Henry

Amaziah would not have even gotten himself into this issue of paying Israel’s soldiers, sending them away, losing his money, and having to deal with their rioting and mischief-making afterward if he had just first considered the lack of help any of his ancestors had in using them as allies previously.  Some just don’t learn from past mistakes I guess.

Calling in men in addition to his own was distrust of God.  Matthew Henry says, “If he had made sure of God’s presence, the army he had of his own was sufficient.”  Not only that, but particularly these men he was not to call.  They were not trustworthy and therefore no good and godly favor could ever be expected by their employment.

So he listens to the prophets and the extra troops go home before the battle.  When Amaziah got back from the battle – which he won without Israel, by the way – the very first thing he does is worship…the idols of the Edomites.  What??!

Yep.  God gave him victory and he just couldn’t wait to get home and set up the idols of the men he just conquered and worship them…because…those false gods saved the Edomites so well…right.

This is completely ridiculous!!!  But this is the kind of thing humans do.  God, in his mercy, sends Amaziah yet another prophet.  Here’s how it goes:

 Therefore the Lord was angry with Amaziah and sent to him a prophet, who said to him, “Why have you sought the gods of a people who did not deliver their own people from your hand?” 16 But as he was speaking, the king said to him, “Have we made you a royal counselor? Stop! Why should you be struck down?” So the prophet stopped, but said, “I know that God has determined to destroy you, because you have done this and have not listened to my counsel.” ~2 Chronicles 25:15-16

This time, Amaziah does not heed the prophet’s true words.  He tells him to stop talking.  He asks this prophet who he thinks he is.  He goes so far as to warn him that if he doesn’t shut up he will be killed.

“So the prophet stopped…”

That’s the saddest line in this entire account.  “Those that will not take advice from the word of God, which would guide them aright, will justly be left to the bad advice of those that will counsel them to their destruction.  Let those be made fools that will not be made wise.”  Matthew Henry

When the true prophet stops talking, it is time to fear.  It is time to start looking over your shoulder, Amaziah.  You are in a bad place.

The prophet does stop talking, stop instructing, stop leading Amaziah.  He gives one final warning and he lets God have at it with this hell-bent idolator.

Wait.  What?!  Isn’t this the guy who just obeyed another prophet at his own personal expense and embarrassment?  Isn’t this the guy who just won a great victory?  It is.  But a prophet asking him to forsake his money and his reputation did not strike at the heart of this half-hearted not so religious guy like the one asking him to forsake his idols did.  Herein we find his true god which was no god at all.

Some men can put on a good show of religion until someone comes along and strikes at the heart of their true god.

In the end, Amaziah was killed by the very men whom he had tried to employ and trust in in the place of God’s presence.  Truly though, it was his pride and his lack of willingness to listen to sound, godly counsel that ultimately destroyed him.

There was something terribly wrong with Amaziah’s heart.  It was not whole.  Such is the lot of many a broken man trying to lead.  If you don’t get that thing fixed, and quick, the fate and pride of Amaziah may find you out.  Go to the master mechanic – Jesus Christ.  He is the only one who can fix a not so whole heart.

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The people of Israel had been through hell and high water – literally.  They had been slaves in Egypt specially delivered right through the sea.  Finally, after forty years of stubborn, rebellious, complaining wandering in the desert, Joshua led them into the land God had promised.

In Joshua chapter 5, we find Joshua circumcising the sons of the Israelite slaves.  Mom and Dad didn’t make it out of the desert, but their children did.  The kids had been born on the way and had never been circumcised in accordance with God’s law.  Just afterward they eat their last provision of manna and remember the Passover and God’s deliverance and mercy.  Their new leader, Joshua, understands the order of importance when it comes to victory.  First, his men must be physically and spiritually obedient and prepared, then they must listen to the Word of the Lord.  Only after all of that is done do they begin to take what God has promised in victory.  It is not until they are physically healed and spiritually prepared that someone important shows up.  Joshua 5:14 tells us that the commander of the Lord’s Army comes and speaks to him about how to conquer the people living in the land God was giving to them.

Up until the point they arrive at the town of Jericho, all the people in the land have been in fear knowing what God had done for the Israelites in marching them through the sea.  Rahab the prostitute had even said as much to the spies Joshua had sent (Joshua 2:9).

They were afraid, but it did not cause them to obey God or befriend God’s people.  Instead, it caused them to shut themselves up inside the walls of their city.  The people of Jericho had resolved that Israel would not be their master.  No one could come in to their community and no one could go out to make peace or otherwise.  “Thus were they infatuated and their hearts hardened to their own destruction – the miserable case and character of all those that strengthen themselves against the Almighty.” ~ Matthew Henry

Those silly walls, as strong and mighty as they were, were no match for the Commander of God’s Army.  Those walls were destined to fall flat despite how fortified and exclusive they were built to be.

The angel gives some rather bizarre instructions for this first military conquest in the promised land.  He tells God’s people to take the ark of the covenant (symbolizing His presence), march around the city, and blow trumpets continually every day for seven days.  The seventh day they were to march around seven times blowing the trumpets and then shout.  That is what would make the walls of Jericho fall down.

There were several reasons why this was going to work and several reasons why God chose to do it this way.  It was going to work, firstly, because it was God’s sovereign will, but, from a practical standpoint, the blowing of the trumpets from outside the walls of this closed city served to intimidate those therein.  By doing so, God’s people were declaring war.

 “They proclaimed war with the Cannanites and so struck a terror upon them; for by terrors upon their spirits, they were to be conquered and subdued.  Thus God’s ministers, by the solemn declarations of his wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, must blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in the holy mountain, that the sinners in Zion may be afraid.  They are God’s heralds to denounce war against all those that go on still in their trespasses, but say, ‘We shall have peace, though we go on.’ “ ~Matthew Henry

The trumpets themselves were least impressive.  God loves to use the foolish things to shame the strong.  Good news for me!

Another reason this worked, from an earthly standpoint, is that, while they may have feared firstly, after seven days of this ridiculous, noisy parade and no attack, the insiders doubtless began to think it was all a laughable show.

“Thus they cried peace and safety, that the destruction might be the more terrible when it came.  Wicked men think God in jest when he is preparing for their judgement; but they will be convinced of their mistake when it is too late…The wall fell down flat, and probably killed abundance of people…That which they trusted to for defense proved their destruction…they became an easy prey to the sword of Israel, and saw to how little purpose it was to shut their gates against a people that had the Lord on the head of them.” ~Matthew Henry

We all know how the story ends.  The walls fall down flat at the shout of God’s people and Jericho is the city chosen to serve as an example to their enemies and an encouragement for the further conquests in taking over the promised land.

There were some practical and spiritual reasons why God chose to have his people conquer the city of Jericho in this way.

It made God’s glory known because only he can be credited with victory when a walled-in city falls at a shout.  This parading around also served to honor his ark as well as his priests who were carrying it and sounding the trumpets.

There is not too far any of us can get in spiritual victory apart from the presence of God going with us.  That’s why Jesus said, “…Apart from me, you can do nothing.”

Furthermore, this was meant to test the faith, patience, and obedience of God’s people.  Wonder what they were thinking.  Wonder how they felt when they had to march around thirteen times.  Thirteen trips around this city with nothing but a promise and their dull and meager instruments.  Yet, the purpose of this slow going-round served to test as well as encourage them heartily when victory came.  This was only the first battle.  Many were to follow.  This was for them to look back on and remember how strong and wise their God really was.  He keeps his promises.

God is in the business of tearing down walls.  So many times we find ourselves building them up, though.  The weapons he gives have divine power to destroy strongholds.  Jesus himself came to tear down the dividing wall of hostility and make one man out of two.  He came to bring unity between God and man as well as man and man.  He came to demolish strongholds.

Pray. Fast. Repeat.  God will take care of the walls.  They will fall when he is obeyed and honored by his people.

“The God of heaven easily can, and certainly will, break down all the opposing power of his and his church’s enemies…Thus, shall Satan’s kingdom fall, nor shall any prosper that harden themselves against God.” ~Matthew Henry

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Preteen + preteen + peacemaker AKA tattletale + one year old = it’s spring but if we dare open our windows someone may call the law.  And I might need them to.

After much begging, pleading, and coercing from tomboy mom, I think my girls have finally chosen a sport they want to practice.  My girls – especially the older two – seem to have adopted a new way of life.  It is hard to describe, but if it had a name it might be called, “Four Girl Fight Club.”

Apparently they have come to believe that the only solution to their ridiculously difficult life is to fight with one another over everything.  Sometimes, the decibels are so high in this compound that it takes a conversation with a hard of hearing mom, a machine washing clothes, a screaming baby, a running lawn mower, a phone alarm ringing to remind me that today’s the last day to pay that bill before I have a 32 thousand dollar late fee, and the noise of a 25 year-old refrigerator to successfully ignore the bouts of unmitigated rage.

Oops.  Did I say ignore?  I mean avoid.  Er.  Um.  No.  I mean, I would never ignore or avoid my own children.  That’s ridiculous.  Clearly I’m busy with all the above mentioned, conveniently noisy tasks.  I would really prefer to be ringside.  Who doesn’t love a good fight, right?  That’s why, even being the free range parent that I am, I always make sure I rush in to see the good parts.  Anytime I am in the middle of 17 other things and I hear someone getting pummelled with pretend accusations, I run right in!

Yesterday was one of those days.

By the time I came to see what was the matter, one fighter was already crying and drawing an emo self-portrait complete with tears and monster sister hovering over her in the sketch, and the other was smugly smarting off about her rightness in the matter.

Now.  I always like to get the facts straight from both sides before I go trying to sub out for the referee, but, with all the commotion I didn’t hear that phone alarm and it just so happened that the ref’s paycheck was the bill I forgot to pay.  So, unfortunately, I had to jump right in quick before someone lost a tooth, or, in my case, their own flippin’ mind.

“What on the earth is going on in here, girls?!”

“Addie made an app and she made rules for the game she created but she isn’t following HER OWN RULES that SHE made!”

“That’s not true!  I made it so I am allowed to make the rules!!”

When I got down to the bottom of it all, it seems that my very technically inclined daughter made up a game and made a rule for her fellow gamers that she was not following herself.  This reality ignited the call to use every justice bone in my other daughter’s body.

“You can’t do that!!!  You can’t just change the rules for yourself!  You can’t just make other people follow them and not follow them yourself!”

“I made it!!!  I am the owner!  I can do whatever I want!”

“AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” said the referee.

“Ok.  Let’s see here.  You are both right – in a way.  Addie is right that if she created it, as the administrator she is ABLE to do things in whatever fashion she chooses.  If she sets it up with an exception for herself, she can because she owns and created the game.  However, as a matter of good business and fairness, Mia is right.  No one likes leaders who expect others to follow the rules that they made but do not follow the rules themselves.  That’s why everyone gets mad at the government.  They have the authority to make the rules and laws because we have entrusted it to them – given it to them – but they are so unjust that they apply them to everyone but themselves.  They also change the rules whenever it is personally advantageous.  That is called injustice.  We do not want to be unjust to others.

So, I understand why everyone is upset but, while both of you are right, you are also both wrong. Think about your other two sisters, girls.  Maylee is upset.  Sonny is screaming.  You are scaring them.  I understand why you both feel justified, but the truth is that neither of you are.  Look how you’re treating each other.  This is not acceptable.

Next time, listen to each other.  Stop yelling over top of one another to get your ideas heard by the person you clearly disagree with.  Talk about it.  Don’t get upset when someone challenges your decisions.  Instead, answer them.  Know why you’re doing something and be able to explain it clearly when asked.  If you are the one asking, don’t be condescending.  When you have a different perspective, respect for the authority goes a long way – especially if you are older than they are.  Lastly, never forget to consider others who hear your disagreements.  Namely – your sisters.  But the windows are open for goodness sake! Everything we do affects other people.  Remember that.

And in that four girl fight club, I believe the Lord truly showed up with wisdom like unto Solomon’s for me.  My own heart was revealed as fighter number five and my own foolishness was found out.  Like the mechanic always says, they only know what you teach ’em.  God did none other than prove Himself faithful once again.

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Midway into our vacation last week, I interrupted all the fun-making and wallet-breaking for a brief educational interlude.  We were halfway around the “world” in Disney’s Epcot when boring old teacher-mom suggested that we go in and watch a history bit in the American building.

Three of us fell asleep and the other two went on and giggled about how boring and sleepy their parents were during this presentation.  Nevertheless, some good lessons were being taught by, as my oldest calls them, “really creepy animatronics.”

 At the conclusion of my well-needed nap, I did hear one idea that is worth talking about.

Mark Twain’s creepy robot reminded Ben Franklin’s creepy robot that no matter how strong and brave, there are some perils that have never been survived.  He named them success, comfort, leisure, and plenty.  “No dynamic people have ever survived the plight of those,”  he said.

It reminded me of a proverb which has been a cornerstone in my life.  Proverbs 24:33-34 says this, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”

This verse is my Jiminy Cricket verse.  Whether it be work or exercise or merely rising early enough to pray before daily pandamonium sets in, my ever-faithful conscience has brought this verse to mind for the better part of the past twenty years.

This may sound crazy, but after seeing how the employees at Disney work to courteously serve hundreds of thousands of people on a daily basis – and being one of them – I came back with a thankful, ready to serve heart.

These people are truly amazing.  They serve thousands of people every single day with a kind, positive, fun attitude, all while doing the very same menial tasks over and over and over again.

There was a waiter in one of our character breakfasts who was filling glasses with orange juice.  The second time he came around, my husband refused more juice, but the man actually poured more anyway.  He realized his mistake and began to apologize saying, “I pour juice in my sleep.  I have nightmares about empty cups!”

We spent the last day of our vacation in the pool where we found some empty cups of our own.  We participated in a game whose object was to fill a water jug before the other team filled their jug by passing cups of full water down relay team lines. Our team lost all three games because those at the end of line kept forgetting to send the empty cups back down for us to fill again.  Yes, those who thought they had the most important job (dumping the water into the jug) were forgetting about the rest of the team and keeping us from being able to complete our jobs.  At one point the leader tried to encourage our team by saying, “Don’t forget to send the empty cups back!  Every empty cup is an opportunity to be filled!”

With all this talk about empty cups, I got to thinking about what Mark Twain said in the program.  What if there weren’t any cups to fill?  What if all the cups were always full?  The waiter would be out of a job and there would be no game to play at the pool.  More importantly, there would be no need to serve and no team to be a part of.

 Success.  Comfort.  Leisure.  Plenty.  These are full cups.  The only way to empty them is to experience failure; discomfort; hard work; want.

We dynamic American people are so very full of everything – especially and including ourselves.  A Latino woman stood behind us in line to see Tinker Bell.  A Spanish-speaking visitor came up and began asking questions to the English-speaking people in front of us.  The language barrier was too much and even after repeating their questions several times, it was obvious they had no answers.  Finally, the lady behind us began to speak to them in Spanish.  Afterward, the Spanish-speaking people were very thankful and the Latino woman remarked to us how “we” (herself included) do not thank others enough.  She talked about how we just expect to be served and catered to and we are not as appreciative as they were to her.  That’s what years of success, comfort, leisure, and plenty do to a people.  Continuing this way is sure to lead to our own demise.

Still, I came home with a song in my heart.  I was thoroughly inspired by the excellence in work ethic and positive attitude of the employees at Disney World.  That’s the kind of worker I want to be – not for the Magic Kingdom, but for God’s Kingdom.  That’s an example I can follow.  I want to keep my cup full enough to serve others and empty enough to afford others an opportunity to fill it.  The only way to accomplish that is to pour myself out on a daily basis.  The small, repetitive, unnoticed tasks are the most important!

Mickey is a mouse, after all.  Mickey is a rodent!  If you find yourself asking how one of the smallest creatures with one of the worst reputations became the greatest attraction in the entire known world, watch the people who work for him.  They are willing to be uncomfortable, put out, hard-pressed, and unbelievably kind for his good name.

Take note, Christians.  Take note.

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