Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Too Much Jesus

I know, I know...you're probably thinking there's no way you can have too much Jesus!  You're probably right.  Just give me a few minutes to explain my phraseology and perhaps then you'll understand.

This weekend I was crazy blessed to attend the memorial services for my cousin, Susie Been. 
Somehow attending her services really drove home to me the fact that I know many of my friends far better than I know most of my relatives.  Some of my relatives I know very well, I'm pretty sure the face they show me is far different than the face their friends see.  I'm left wondering which is the real them....Susie was my friend on Facebook, I saw her a couple of times a year but that's it.  I loved her lots and always thought she was a fabulous, generously loving and genuinely kind individual.  When the pastor opened up for personal eulogies, I was so excited to hear people express sentiments about the exact same Susie that I knew!!  She was an amazing woman and when you looked at her you felt the face of Jesus in her every action and word.  She lived up to the challenge of being His hands and feet here on earth.
 
It seems anymore that "Jesus" is somewhat trendy.  You see crosses on everything from ripped jeans and phone cases to dog leashes and water bottles.  People are wearing Jesus everywhere but somehow I don't see His face in very many of them.  I'm honestly not meaning to judge but let me give you an example of missing his face in spite of 'too much Jesus.'  A few years ago we were on a homeschool field trip with a religious homeschool group (I usually avoid them like the plague).  This particular field trip involved several hundred students from homeschool and public school.  It was a great day and the venue had worked hard establishing the groups and how we would cycle through them.  My kids dipped candles, washed clothes on a washboard, sat in an old fashion one room school room, learned about some time period work trades, etc.  The negative of the day was NOT the public school kids, who all really know how to stand in a line and follow directions, it WAS the one mom from the homschool group with "too much Jesus."  Her ringtone was Our God Is An Awesome God and her ringer was on super loud,  it must've rang a dozen times that day.  Each time it was in her Jesus bling purse and she had to dig for it pretending each time to apologize.  Each time interrupting a speaker or presentation, her circle of friends acted like it was just fine-I was mortified as a homeschool mom and as a christian.

When Jesus roamed this earth, he didn't have a giant "J" bedazzled on his robe or demand lots of rubles for his time .  His followers didn't sport "team Jesus" on their sandals.  After He died for us, they didn't tattoo a cross on their arm or brand one onto their donkeys' ass.  They lived and breathed the message, they were his hands and feet.  They did for others quietly and almost anonymously. 

Back to Susie's services.  The pastor, Brother Been was 97 and has been leading that particular Pentecostal church for 67 years!  Each sentence ended with an amen or a hallelujah; it was a true celebration of life, not preaching her into heaven because she'd done the work herself.  Near the end of his message, in a soft voice he said, "We serve a handicapped God."  I was stunned.  I looked around and there were no strange expressions I thought perhaps no one heard him.  He again repeated, "WE SERVE A HANDICAPPED GOD, AMEN?!?!?!"  The congregation shouts AMEN and he continues "He relies on us to be his hands and feet, we are humans and the biggest handicap of all!!!  Amen....Hallelujah!"  Talk about humbling.  We who he loves so much handicap him because we fail him every day because we don't do the work of his hands and feet.  People look at us and see our bling but does our bling prevent others from seeing his reflection in our hearts.

One more story, once upon a time I wanted a Jesus fish (Ichthus) on my car-everyone was doing it.  You'd see entire fish families.  When I expressed my desire to Handsome his response was simple, "Honey you realize that's a big responsibility."  ????WHAT do you mean?????  "If you have that fish on the car, it's a symbol that you're a Christian-are you willing to drive like a Christian all the time?  No speeding, no cutting people off, no gestures?"  I realized I wasn't worthy of a Jesus fish on my car because I'm human and there is no way I'm capable of representing his love 24/7-I fail him.  I am his handicap.

Wear your cross, put that fish on your car but remember the most important Jesus you have is the one who lives in your heart-the one that others can only see when you show the same unconditional love he shows you, behaving as the good Samaritan and striving to do the work of his hands and feet until he returns.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Community Garden or Townhouses???

***If you have already seen this blog, please scroll to the bottom for an UPDATE***

Today my heart is heavy and it's really my own fault.  There is a strip of land, 2.6 beautiful acres with grass, trees and a drainage "creek" running through it.  I've been coveting it for a long time.  The other day my Handsome husband asked me if I'd started a campaign or shared my vision with anyone...sadly my answer was no.  This is my story, my prayer, my plea.

I've always been a gardener.  Some of my earliest memories are planting seeds and picking fresh veggies from our family garden.  A few years ago I first heard about the concept of community gardens and during the last year I've had the opportunity to visit Tri Cycle Farms in Fayetteville on several occasions for tours and workshops their motto is SHARE 1/3 (with volunteers) GIVE 1/3 (to food pantries) and SELL 1/3 (to sustain the farm).  It is an incredible oasis in the middle of a busy area they are striving to reduce food insecurity for persons within a 2-3 mile circle of their location.  In my heart, I've been praying for that 2.6 acres that run along Highway 72 (2nd Street) and Elm Tree that some how it would be a community garden.  That's where my failure comes in.  I have the faith-praying diligently every day but I failed to implement the other part of Christianity-WORKS.



Food insecurity is a very real problem.  Were you aware that Arkansas has the 2nd highest rate of food insecurity in the United States; 20% of Arkansans don't know where their next meal will come from.  And Northwest Arkansas leads the state in food insecurity in Benton & Washington counties 1 in 4 are food insecure.  What is food insecurity?  It is the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Right here in Benton County there are more than 30 locations you can reach out to if you are in need of food.  Our church in Centerton is home to H2O (Help to Others) Food Pantry which serves on average of 175-200 persons EACH WEEK! Half or more are Senior Citizens or Children! When we had a neighborhood food drive a couple of years ago, I was shocked that many of the residents had no idea there was a food pantry in Centerton, let alone the need for one!

 Last year I attended a meeting held at the Benton County Extension Office hosted by Susan Pickle, she was evaluating how her office serves the community currently and reaching out to the community for suggestions of ways they could better serve them. There were people from a variety of walks of life at this meeting-educators, parents, credit counseling, etc. and I learned that there are many families who do not get the free or reduced lunches because they either don't understand the program or they don't want to share their income information to receive the lunches.

District wide in Bentonville (where the average income is $71,461) the number of children receiving FREE lunches is 3,152 and the number receiving REDUCED cost lunches is 930.  The combined total makes up 25% of the number of children enrolled in the Bentonville School District. The "neighborhood" school for the Orchards Subdivision is Ardis Ann Middle School-home to 5th and 6th graders.  They have 687 students as of today and 146 of them receive free lunch, another 56 receive lunch at a reduced cost. (More than 25% of the school population)  According to the USDA
Any child at a participating school may purchase a meal through the National School Lunch Program. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced‐price meals, for which students can be charged no more than 40 cents. (For the period July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014, 130 percent of the poverty level is $30,615 for a family of four; 185 percent is $43,568 .)
In our community where affluence seems to be the norm we must realize that it isn't!  Tonight I am attending a meeting at the Burnett Real Estate Team office located at 1011 N. Walton Blvd. at 6:00pm. about a companies desire to build townhouses at my coveted corner.  Wouldn't it be nice if this land could remain natural?  Wouldn't it be nice if the children walking home from school could stop in and pick some fresh produce on their way home and pull a few weeds.  Giving them a sense of community, a sense of pride, a feeling of ownership.

I wish I would have gotten busy working to turn this....

This is the property at Hwy 72 & Elm Tree





Into this...
This is TriCycle Farm in Fayetteville located at Garland & Sycamore.

















****UPDATE****

Yesterday I received this note from a neighbor whose property backs up to the strip mentioned above:

Great blog Dana!! Currently the property is zoned A1 agricultural. The small clump of trees directly behind our home contains an original apple tree from the late 1800's early 1900's. The tree is in distress due to overgrowth surrounding it plus a rumor that the previous property owner tried to destroy it. If the tree could be salvaged it would make a fantastic focal point for your community garden idea.
Last night at the meeting with the developer, Tim-White Rock Investments and Cody Burnett we learned they are seeking to put 24 townhomes on that tiny property with two entrances on to busy Highway 72!  If you are inclined to keep this zoned A1-Agriculture rather than R3-Medium Density Residential, please consider one of the following:
1.  Attending the rezoning meeting on March 21st at 5:00pm held at 305 SW "A" Street, Bentonville
2.  Express your opinion in writing to the Planning Commission.  You may mail or deliver to the City of Bentonville Planning Department, 305 SW "A" Street, Bentonville, AR   72712
3.  Use the form (picture below or I can send to you as a .pdf) to express your opinion by checking the appropriate box.  (This may be delivered or mailed to the above address.)
For more information from the City you may call the Planning Department at (479) 271-3122

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Lent: Spiritual Spring Cleaning

This morning, as I was preparing to work  on my blog, I could actually hear Teyve singing "Tradition" in my head!  I may have smiled remembering a certain Angel Girl who danced behind a scrim in a land far away during a run of Fiddler on the Roof.  I love his words, "How did this tradition get started?  I don't know.  But it's a tradition and because of our tradition everyone of us know who he is and what God expects him to do. Without tradition our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof!" If you know me very well you know Lent is my favorite season of the Christian year and the traditions of Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter are so powerful and meaningful in my life.  A few years ago, I wrote a Lent blog-to this day is is the most read of all my entries.  But this year I felt a tugging on my heart to write another.

1.  I'm Sorry is going to become a phrase of the past.  When I spend more time than I planned instead of saying I'm sorry to my kids I'm going to turn it around and say, "thank you for allowing me to spend the time I needed to caring for ___________."  When I can't join a friend for coffee instead of saying I'm sorry saying "thank you so much for inviting me to join you, I'd love to join you _____ when I've got a free afternoon to enjoy our time."  Saying I'm sorry always makes me feel so guilty when I don't need to, for the next 40 days I'm focusing on GREATER POSITIVITY.

2.  Did you realize that every time you get a receipt from a store, doctor or restaurant there is a phone number on it?  You may have used it when a clerk was rude or you got poor service to call the manager and complain.  How many times have you used it to compliment?  For the next 40 days every time I receive a receipt from a business I am going to find something positive about my visit and call the manager and let them know how much I appreciate their business, an employee who was helpful or nice, how clean their bathroom was, how fresh and hot the food was or maybe you noticed a plaque or certificate for something they have done or given to the community, more thank you's might encourage them to help even more next time.  For the next 40 days I'm expressing GRATITUDE more often.

3.  A wise young lady reminded me yesterday that you can't pour from an empty pitcher.  Unfortunately I spend much of my life pouring from myself and I forget to take time for a refill.  When I do that, I take from the energy, love and time I need to spend on myself.  I wind up feeling emotionally and mentally exhausted often taking out the feelings of frustration on those I love the most-my Handsome and my Angel Girls.  For the next 40 days I'm being more GENTLE to myself and keeping my pitcher full by taking my time to recharge.  Thanks Brittany!

Together let's take the next 40 days-use them to their fullest-the true sense of the tradition of Lent which is to be a season of fasting, self-denial, spiritual growth, conversion and simplicity.  Lent comes from the Teutonic word for springtime and can be viewed as a spiritual spring cleaning: a time for taking spiritual inventory and then cleaning out the things which hinder our relationship with Jesus Christ and our service to him. ( Thank you Church Year for this great explanation.)

A while back I was a little stressed and during the night, I woke up with this prayer running through my head:  For the next 40 days, this prayer will be my plea as I seek to do a little spiritual spring cleaning and focus on the areas above reminding myself every day that I AM crazy blessed!!!!