Inspiration–God-Style

Over twelve years ago now, I met a special lady  online at a homeschool website. Her name was Betty. At first, I had cautious conversations with her and the other ladies on the website. I had just begun homeschooling, and they all sounded so accomplished. I wasn’t sure I would ever do as well as they seemed to have done. She and the other ladies must have talked me down a dozen times during my first year. They were always there on my screen with a word of encouragement. It might seem funny to you, considering someone a friend who could only be seen on a computer screen, but we were all doing something that was considered out of the norm. 

As the years passed, I noticed something different about Betty. She always pointed to Jesus in whatever conversation she was having. And, she took it further than being just a name on a screen. When my mother-in-law passed away suddenly in 2009, she took the lead in having cards and flowers sent, and she called me. I don’t remember how long we talked that day, but our conversation showed her heart, and it left me strength (God’s strength, I know now.) to keep going through the first days of my grief.  Betty was doing all of this while helping her husband fight cancer. She showed up for me then, and I will always be grateful. 

Sadly, the end of the following year saw her husband go to be with Jesus. She showed such amazing strength encouraging all of us–her online friends and her friends in real life. That time though turned out to be a time of tumult for both of us. For me, it was my husband’s surgery and subsequent loss of his job while I was still homeschooling. For her, it was the church not showing up when she was widowed. It still hurts me when I consider those words. How could someone not show up for such an amazing and gentle Christian? But, that is not really for me to consider as it is part of her story and not mine. 

While she was still going through her tumult the following year, she showed up for me again. We had gone out west so my husband could look for work, and we needed a place of respite for a few days. She provided her home, and she wasn’t even there. She had her son let us in, and those few days of rest encouraged all of us.  They took us to the following week when my husband received a job offer on our son’s twelfth birthday to go to Alabama. So, we drove back east to a new city and a new state to begin a new life. 

In the seven years since, a lot has happened to the both of us. I have finished homeschooling both of my sons through high school with one of them almost being done with college. Her children are all grown now as well. There have been job losses and hospital stays for my husband. She had one as well and had to learn to walk again. She also married again to a wonderful man. They’ve lived in two different states. 

Those are the facts, but what I want to talk about now is how she has inspired me. Like I said earlier, she points to Jesus with everything she does. Jesus, not a church.  She’s done what God has told her to do even when people in churches have told her it was impossible. She’s started a ministry to those in the adult entertainment industry, the “least of these” talked about in Scripture. She and her teammates go into the clubs to show the people there the love of Jesus, period. The name of the ministry is Xpose Hope. (https://xposehope.com/), and I would love it if you would explore the website and donate if God so leads you. I’ve also set up a Facebook fundraiser that lasts until the end of this week (https://www.facebook.com/donate/323209931601991/) if you want to go that route. She is reaching people, and she is loving people. People who would not go into a church building otherwise. And with all that, she inspires me. 

Now, I think I know Betty well enough to know she would be humbled by what I’ve written and would still point to Jesus regardless. But, I think you need to know why she specifically inspires me. As I’ve tried to figure out the question of ‘What comes next?’, I’ve felt God calling me to write. So, I’ve written. I’ve written stories, essays, and blog posts. I’m working on a book. It’s not as directly involved with people as Betty’s ministry is, but I’ve worked on getting better at what God has called me to do. My writing hasn’t received a lot of attention yet. I don’t think it’s been well understood. People still look at me oddly when I mention what I’m doing with my post homeschooling life, and it’s a lonely feeling. I’m going against the grain in many ways especially at church. But, I know Betty understands it, and that is why she inspires me. She has encouraged me with my writing, and she has encouraged me with other things I’ve felt called to do. She’s even encouraged me to do things with my callings pointing to Jesus and not to wait until a church says it’s okay. 

All of these things about her life have pointed me to Jesus and have inspired me at the same time. It brought me to an understanding yesterday morning too. Not everyone will understand what God has called me to do. Why should they? It’s my calling not theirs. So, I asked God for peace and not to feel lonely as I continue to consider the question of ‘What comes next?’, and I thanked God for the people He’s put in my life like Betty. 

Praying that God will give us all an idea of His calling and people to encourage us like Betty encourages me. 

God’s blessings on you all today! 

The Gospel is the Great Equalizer

With the turning of the calendar to December, my thoughts have turned to the birth of Jesus and to what the Gospel means to all of us. Let me explain. We all have a tendency to sit in judgment of other people. Jesus knew this full well and spoke of it in the Sermon of the Mount. From Matthew 7:1-5, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

So, why do I quote these Scriptures today in a post about Christmas at the beginning of December? Bear with me. All will become clear.

Anyway, if you’re in the United States, I’m sure you’re familiar with the migrant situation on the southern border especially with the group that is in Tijuana, Mexico at this time. If you’re in a different country, you might very well be familiar with immigrant situations in your own country–whether legal or illegal. Today though, I don’t want to politicize the discussion. I want to instead examine some of our thinking about the situation and whether the fear of someone or something different makes us recoil in finding solutions.

First, have you ever wondered about the people who say, ‘Why don’t they just immigrate legally?” (in regards to illegal immigrants) The attitude I sense in all of those statements is one of superiority. (I did it the right way. Why can’t you do it the right way?) To me that sounds like an attitude of judgment–something that Jesus tells us not to do in the Scripture I quoted earlier. It’s also why I won’t make those kind of statements online myself. God is calling me to treat the people I come in contact with, either in real like or online life, kindly so I do my best not to become involved in contentious political discussions.

But, then there’s the other side. The other side which says it’s okay to disobey laws no matter what. The one who doesn’t want to change the laws because it really isn’t interested in being compassionate. It just wants to create a situation which will make the first side look bad. Politics–it is the topic that makes me say, ‘Jesus, please come now,’ more than any other.

There’s another side though that I feel like I can speak to somewhat since my trip to Honduras last summer. There are people there who want to make their country a country they’re proud to live in. I met some of them, and I was conscious of how wealthy I was compared to them  even though I’m paying for two children in college now. They have a commitment to their faith I know I’m lacking, and they treat each other better than many people I know in the United States, at least the ones I met do. Of course, they’re not perfect, and I’m not trying to claim they are. They have a more conscious awareness of their need for a Savior which would benefit all of us to witness.

I say all this today to come back to the title of my post. The Gospel is the great equalizer. Whether poor or rich, white or black, migrant or citizen, we all have the need for a Savior–for Jesus. It doesn’t matter what side of the political spectrum we’re on. None of the other things I’ve said matter either. We have all sinned, and we all need Jesus. My hope going forward is that we can remember this and treat the people in our lives like Jesus would have us treat them.

God bless you all!