Tag Archives: joy

Sonic Footprint

If anyone questions whether there is a God, He is always fully present.  If anyone asks if He hears our prayers, glance at who He places in your presence.  If anyone wonders if He answers those prayers, look to the present to see how gloriously he responds.  If anyone inquires about His expectations of us, teach them how His love demonstrates His present responsibility.

Faithful living brings a heart full of hope and a life of love and joy.  Each day, we draw the picture of faithful living by the sonic footprint (the pattern and mark our words are leaving on others) we place on those around us.

Below is an excerpt from an earlier post.  At the time, I was trying to keep a positive sonic footprint while I was in the middle of a storm.  You see, I believe that economic independence is obtained through education.  Two years ago, my dream of my offspring having that seemed to be going up in smoke.  The anguish I experienced was soothed only in the comforting arms of prayer and through the encouraging words of others.  God sent a prophet to me to let me know everything would be okay and charted a course my daughter could take to get where she needs to be.  She is now on that course.  She has pulled herself together and will soon enter community college.  Enjoy!

While I was working at guest services today, a man on the security team named Aaron Hope approached me and began talking to me.  His opening words included a comment on the emblem on my shirt. The emblem was my daughter’s high school and mascot.  He told me he graduated from there just a few years ago.  He talked about his positive experiences there as well as his challenges and struggles.  His story included examples of his involvement in many activities, his laziness as a student, the encouragement of his parents, and his eventual and close-call path to graduation.  I explained to him the grip fear has on me as I see my daughter in the exact same place while running out of time to correct her course.  He laughed at the similarities between the two of them.  He gave me some tips on clever ways to encourage her and let me know that his educational path ended with a college degree.

He was honest with me about the three university rejection letters that were the results of his less than perfect grades.  He talked about having to apply to the local community college and finally getting accepted.  It was a challenging experience for him because he knew he was a smart kid who had failed to apply himself.  His decisions led to a less than desirable result.  He was left behind as he watched his friends go away to four-year universities while he stayed at home to attend junior college.  Through the experience, he found motivation to succeed.  He regularly attended community college classes, paid attention, and made good grades.   During his first year at the school, he visited a high school friend who got into a state university just two hours away.  After visiting the campus just once, he committed to doing what it took to get admitted.  The next year, he transferred there.  He suggested that I take my daughter on a campus visit to the university and informed me that it has an undergraduate program and a follow on professional school program in my daughter’s area of interest.  He ended the conversation with reminding me to be prayerful and patient because everything was going to work out.  He then smiled and went on his way.

I believe this experience was God’s plan.  God knew about the emotional meltdown my daughter had the day before when she realized the deep whole she was in because of low grades.  He heard her cry out in my arms that she was slipping into a spiral and did not know how to stop it; that she is one of the smartest people in her group of friends but has the lowest grades because she hasn’t been studying like she should; and that she performed poorly in her sporting event the night before because she was tired as she can’t sleep because she is worried about passing her classes for the quarter.  God’s spirit moved me to stay at home Saturday night to be with her instead of coming to church.  He knew I was feeling fearful about her future, alone, and helpless.  He also knew I needed a constructive example of an encouraging person who would make me feel good, to help me through the moment as well as to assist me with improving my sonic footprint.

Sooooo…to bring me into the fold, I was struck with an issue of importance to me, my daughter.  God worked it out that I would be standing alone in His house the next day.  He sent a handsome and physically fit young man who is half my age because He knew that would catch my attention.  He sent a messenger named Aaron Hope – a brother and keeper from a high place bearing a strong and confident prospect.  (Aaron is Hebrew for teacher, lofty, exalted; also Moses’ older brother and keeper by God’s command.  Hope means to cherish a desire with anticipation.)  Because I was vulnerable, I was able to hear God’s voice and was encouraged while receiving a lesson on how to advance His kingdom.  Through the 10 minute interlude with Aaron, I was left with this:

  1. With Great intentionality, God sent his exalted teacher to remind me to stay optimistic and faithful as events of the future occur by His will and in His time.
  2. 5 “Before I started to put you together in your mother, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart as holy.  I chose you to speak to the nations for Me.” Jeremiah 1:5
  3. As I wait, I must be an Aaron Hope by being positive with my words, leaving others feeling good and God led.

1 Peter 1 (MSG) tells us:

3-5 What a God we have!  And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus!  Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!  God is keeping careful watch over us and the future.  The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. 

6-7 I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime.  Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine.  When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. 

8-9 You never saw him, yet you love him.  You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing.  Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation. 

10-12 The prophets who told us this was coming asked a lot of questions about this gift of life God was preparing. The Messiah’s Spirit let them in on some of it—that the Messiah would experience suffering, followed by glory.  They clamored to know who and when.  All they were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves—through the Holy Spirit—the Message of those prophecies fulfilled.  Do you realize how fortunate you are?  Angels would have given anything to be in on this!

13-16 So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives.  Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing.  You didn’t know any better then; you do now.  As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness.  God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”

17 You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way.  But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.

Curbside Justice

Yesterday, after returning from a women’s retreat that included a three-hour drive through the Allegany Mountains, I stopped by the store to pick up a few items. As I approached the entrance, I saw a familiar face strolling along the curbside headed towards the same entry door. It was one of the store cashiers who was returning from a break. She was talking on her cell phone to someone about issues related to a job corps. I entered the store and went on my way to get my groceries.

When I completed my shopping, I noticed that same cashier had opened a lane and was wiping down the counters while waiting for a customer to arrive. Although no one was waiting in her line, I passed her register so I wouldn’t have to face the social ills that make me uncomfortable. You see, a few weeks earlier, I was at her register and noticed she had bruises on her neck and chest and her arm was in a bandage. When I asked her what happened, she said she was clumsy and had fallen down the stairs. The shapes and location of her bruising made her story implausible. What challenged the strength of my heart strings even more is that she had severe dental issues and appeared to be six months pregnant or two days postpartum. My lack of desire for seeing her bilious condition is what caused me to pass her register. Then the parable of the Good Samaritan came to mind. Luke 10:30-35 says, “30 This fellow was traveling down from Jerusalem to Jericho when some robbers mugged him. They took his clothes, beat him to a pulp, and left him naked and bleeding and in critical condition. 31 By chance, a priest was going down that same road, and when he saw the wounded man, he crossed over to the other side and passed by. 32 Then a Levite who was on his way to assist in the temple also came and saw the victim lying there, and he too kept his distance. 33 Then a despised Samaritan journeyed by. When he saw the fellow, he felt compassion for him. 34 The Samaritan went over to him, stopped the bleeding, applied some first aid, and put the poor fellow on his donkey. He brought the man to an inn and cared for him through the night. 35 The next day, the Samaritan took out some money—two days’ wages to be exact—and paid the innkeeper, saying, “Please take care of this fellow, and if this isn’t enough, I’ll repay you next time I pass through.” (The Voice)

Feeling convicted, I prayed Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath as a prayer. It says, “Give me Your eyes for just one second. Give me Your eyes so I can see everything that I keep missing. Give me Your love for humanity. Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted; the ones that are far beyond my reach. Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten. Give me Your eyes so I can see.” My grandmother’s voice then spoke to me and said, “If you don’t get your rump back there…” My mind shrieked back, “But I have nothing to give!”

Still feeling anxious about what I would encounter and what God might call me to do, in an act of obedience, I turned my cart around and went to her lane (all the while praying that I would have a genuine and positive reaction to her.) I then asked God again to allow me to see her through His eyes.

She courteously greeted me. As I stood in front of her and she would not make eye contact with me, I quickly realized that injustice in her life was all too common. Her alcohol-atrophied skin, meth-ravaged teeth, and native Virginia dialect that made southern Ebonics sound like the king’s English, told a story of perpetual marginalization of a disenfranchised life.

James 2:18-20 tells us, 18 “I know what you’re thinking: ‘OK, you have faith. And I have actions. Now let’s see your faith without works, and I’ll show you a faith that works.’  Don’t you realize that faith without works is useless, like a glove without a hand or a hat without a head?  19 Do you think that just believing there’s one God is going to get you anywhere? The demons believe that, too, and it terrifies them!  20 The fact is, faith has to show itself through works performed in faith.  If you don’t recognize that, then you’re an empty soul.” (The Voice)

I first noticed that her stomach was flat. I wondered if she lost her baby or circumstances required her to return to work immediately after delivery. I didn’t ask, I just prayed. I also saw that her previously bandaged forearm had a Japanese script tattoo. When I asked her the significance of it, her gaze raised from foot level to knee level as she told me it was her name. I asked when she got it, where she is from, and if she gets to see her family often? With each question answered, her line of sight adjusted to my waist, then chest, then shoulders. When she finished ringing me up and handed me my receipt, I told her thank you. I pushed my cart a few feet as she began helping the next person in line. I paused, called her by name and said, “have a nice evening.” She smiled, looked over her shoulder into my eyes and with great sincerity said, “Thank you so much.” I then realized I did have something to give. I gave her basic human dignity and respect.

The encounter made me understand that justice is best administered through the fruits of the holy spirit and that injustice is caused by a deprivation of the fruits. The experience left me with this:

  1. This world is not just but we can bring moments of justice to it
  2. Regardless of one’s condition, love has a soothing essence
  3. Every moment is an opportunity to disburse kindness, goodness, and gentleness
  4. Curbsides and mountainsides are equal when it comes to sending and receiving joy, peace, and patience
  5. Faithfulness and self-control go a long way in building His Kingdom

Margaret Anderson says, “As I look at the human story I see two stories.  They run parallel and never meet.  One is of people who live, as they can or must, the events that arrive; the other is of people who live, as they intend, the events they create.” In the Kingdom of God, the two are designed to meet and on His demand, frequently do. Proverbs 30:12-13 reminds us just how close we are with, “12 Don’t imagine yourself to be quite presentable when you haven’t had a bath in weeks. 13 Don’t be stuck-up and think you’re better than everyone else.” (MSG)