Looking Down to Role Models

ArielI learn so much more from kids than I do from adults.

With adults, there are agendas and ulterior motives; insecurities, projections and complications. But children are simple. They are innocent and straight-forward. Their words and actions are not yet adulterated by societal expectations or unhealed wounds. And so I learn from them, in their simplistic, innocent view of the world.

As I have continued volunteering with the kids’ ministry at church, I am reminded how funny it is that, the more we seek to bless and serve others, the more we discover that we are ultimately the ones blessed as we pour ourselves out on others’ behalf.

A few weeks ago, I had a 10-year-old girl named Ariel in my group. She’s a beautiful African American girl – smart, bright-eyed, a good listener and fast. To drive home one of our bible stories, we played a game that required athleticism, and she won. The prize for winning was candy, but when I showed Ariel the Starburst, she declined politely. “I only like chocolate, not fruity candy.”

I wanted to give Ariel something, though, so I dug in my wallet and pulled out a shiny Sacagawea dollar – the new, golden US dollar coin. My mom is always giving me trinkets like this because she delights in the little things in life and expects that others do as well. She’s sweetly childlike that way.

All of the other kids gathered around Ariel and ooh-ed and aah-ed over her winnings. They had never seen a gold dollar coin before, and – to my mom and to elementary aged kids – its shiny surface looked magical. They took turns passing it around; it was precious and special, and Arial was admired for having this special coin.

After our game and lesson, our rag-tag group of kids joined the larger assembly for music time. While I herded the kids to our assigned green rug space, Ariel walked up to the front of the auditorium and spoke quietly to the worship leader before the music started. I saw the worship leader walk over to a jar we use for collecting offering and extend it to Ariel. We’d already taken up offering for the day, but I watched from afar as Ariel placed her precious gold dollar into the offering jar.

When she wordlessly made her way back to our rug, I asked her, “Ariel, did you tithe your gold dollar?” She looked up at me with a unique combination of poise, innocence, joy and wisdom. “Yes. I wanted to give it back to God.”

I was astonished. What a gem of a young woman. How many adults would have responded that way? How many adults do respond that way? The more we have, the greedier we get. If we have something shiny that draws the admiration of others, we are not going to part with it – certainly not willingly! But Ariel displayed a selflessness, generosity, faith and devotion that was inspirational. She went out of her way to give her blessings back to God.

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” -1 Timothy 4:12

Authentically Aurora

Return on Investment

Return on InvestmentRemember Alim, my Muslim friend who encouraged me to start attending Christian church again?

We met for coffee this week, and he shared with me that his mom just found out she has relapsed. It’s breast cancer.

He put on a brave face and made it seem like he was fine – “We caught it early,” Alim told me with a shrug – but I know he was upset. I asked if I could pray for him, and he said that of course, he’d like that.

“No, I mean like right now.”

“Oh! Sure…”

And so we prayed together. It was a simple prayer – thankfulness for our friendship, requests for healing for his mom if it’s God’s will, and both strength and peace for their entire family.

A few hours later, I got this text from him:

“Thank you for praying for my mom with me. Your kindness and faith touched my heart this morning and lifted my spirit. I need it very much. I’m blessed to have crossed paths with you.”

After the way God used Alim in my life, I love that I got to be an instrument of encouragement for him in turn.

“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap.” -Luke 6:38

Authentically Aurora

Daily Blessings

Dad DaughterI miss countless blessings every day because they are so seemingly insignificant that I don’t have the eyes to see them. But I want to start noticing these little blessings of each day. Muscle strength and physical endurance are both built up slowly, through ongoing exercise. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and changing your life requires changing daily habits.

Similarly, I want to build my faith through acknowledgement of the blessings of each day that, lately, I have not taken the time to notice or appreciate. Exercising the muscle of faith on a small scale leads to development of a greater faith on a grander scale. So today, I choose to begin by taking that first step in this faith journey of a thousand miles that will last (literally) a lifetime.

I recently agreed to take on a new project at work and am transitioning the project from a colleague named Hannah, so earlier this week Hannah forwarded me a meeting request for a conference call that was supposed to start at 7am today. Only, I was running late to the office (seriously, who schedules a meeting for 7am?), so I didn’t get logged on to my computer until 7:14am.

Being not only a perfectionist but also someone raised in a military family, I considered not dialing into the call at all because I figured it would be better to miss the meeting completely than to dial in so late. But, in my new spirit of releasing my perfectionism, I clicked on the meeting invitation to join the conference call, only to find that there was no dial in information in the meeting invitation.

So I IMed Hannah with a quick, “Hey, there’s no dial in information for the meeting.” She wrote back immediately, “I’ll drag you in to the call via Communicator [our internal messaging system]. Sorry, I just walked in to the office.”

Moments earlier, I’d been filled with angst over being late mingled with irritation over the early morning call, coupled with guilt for not setting my alarm earlier and embarrassment for nearly missing the first meeting of this new project. Basically, lots of negative thoughts and emotions. But God took care of it all.

Not only was Hannah running late to the office herself, but she had also failed to include the necessary dial in information in the meeting invitation, so she probably thought I’d been sitting around for 14 minutes trying to figure out how to get into the call. We all got dialed in, and the meeting went smoothly from there.

I had all that angst over a non-issue that God worked out perfectly. And, truth be told, it would have been a non-issue even if I had dialed in 14 minutes late. I am entirely too hard on myself, but God used this morning’s call as an opportunity to remind me that He is looking out for me even in the little, mundane details of every day.

He is trustworthy and dependable and working for my good and His glory. My prayer is that I would learn to see His trustworthiness in the tiny details of my life so that I can better trust him with the big things.

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” -Psalm 37:23

Authentically Aurora