Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for so many things, blessed beyond measure, and each week as I record my thoughts about being gracious, it occurs to me that I am thankful not only for what is now, but also what brought me to this place.

Years ago, as a youth volunteer for the junior and senior high youth groups of my home church, I thought I was pretty special. I had just graduated from college, I was 21 years old and had it all; great job, brand new sports car, nails done, hair coiffed, only the finest clothes, you name it, it was all good.

Then, something interesting happened...I was walking through the hall at church one Sunday and my dear friend Mary approached me. I remember the interaction like it happened yesterday...Her daughter was wearing a mini skirt and these really cool tye dye tights, she was high schoolish age and Mary was chiding her for her choice of apparel that morning. She stopped her tirade briefly to ask me a question, "Would you be interested in leading a group for the upcoming Mission trip this summer?" I love Mary and I love kids, but somehow sleeping on dirt floors and wearing (gulp) overalls, just didn't fit my image at the time - yes, I really thought this. She told me to sleep on it. She said she would contact (read "bug")me until I had made my decision. I was still living at home, and when I sat down with my parents for dinner, I laughed out loud when I told them about the proposition I had encountered. Thing was they didn't laugh...my father especially, offered this could be an opportunity that would change my life. Oh the wisdom, almost prophetic. A seed was planted.

So, that summer I went on the first of ten Mission trips I would take with this group of senior high youth. Did it change my life? - Oh yes, I would go on to pastor that youth group until I had my own family. I became passionate about serving others and though I still like the occasional finer things in life, I truly know the desperation that people in our own backyard live with daily. I met families with enormous medical needs and no insurance or financial means to receive care, I met senior citizens who had never in their life experienced running water until we arrived, I met children who had never slept in a bed, just covers on the floor (dirt floor, I might add). Here, in the good ol' USA there were communities with no economy, no hope and no future. I have ever since supported the mission that I originally worked with, and our family commits to support them as long as there is air in our lungs, even in the most difficult of times for us. Because those times will never look as dreary as what the beautiful people of areas in Appalachia have experienced.



There is a point to all of this - I received an email from one of the young ladies, Kate, with whom I travelled at least twice. Now a junior at Penn State University, she spent her winter break in Peru playing "Pato, Pato, Gonzo" (duck, duck, goose), offering a VBS program to families and building and repairing an orphanage. The pictures were positively heartwarming and these kids (45 of them!) worked HARD.

Kate said I planted a seed; I beg to differ, God laid it on my heart to plant a seed, just as God laid it on Mary's heart to move my mountain so that I might see the best He had in store for me. I pray my ladybugs will know the joy of serving others. Kate titled this picture "one of these things just isn't the same". I would agree Kate, you are a leader among your peers, an example.

Today I am thankful for all the seeds planted, be it missioning, the adoption community, motherhood, teachers, people serving people. It's all good.

7 comments:

Meredith Teagarden said...

Heather,

This post brought tears to my eyes. Isn't it beautiful that God uses us as we are, flawed, and silly and young or old, he uses us to reach those He loves. He Hears them and uses us. This will never make sense completely for me. He knows your tender heart and what he has done in your life reminds me of His beauty!

Kimber said...

Heather,
I had chills the entire time I read this post. What an amazing story (you shared a tiny bit of it with me on the phone) but reading it today in your beautifully written words was amazing. Yes, it is so important to be doing God's work all the time even in the small things we do because we can always help to spread His seeds of good. What an example of that you are:)

I still have that book to send you--sory it has been CRAZY busy here. I am hoping to package up several things I need to send people (some very belated) and get my tushy to the post office. Can you say overwhelmed and a little lazy too(that is me)?

Angie said...

Heather,

Your beautiful words brought tears to my eyes today. You reminded me of a time in my life when my husband was a youth minister and really wanted me to go on a couple of mission trips with him. It was also not something I ever thought "I" would do. I decided to go, all the while preparing to bless the socks of the people we were ministering to. Never in my wildest dreams was I prepared for the blessings that I received. I hope I planted some seeds on those trips but I know my life was changed and will never be the same, for that I am thankful.
Thank you for this wonderful reminder to be constant and steadfast in His work.

Lori said...

What an amazing life-changing experience and how wonderfully God has used you, and still does! Thanks for sharing this special experience in your life. :)

Sheri said...

What an amazing post for Thankful Thursday! Thanks so much for sharing this incredible part of your life. I just love how God uses us often when we least expect it. You are planting seeds in your little ladybugs, and if they are anything like their mama, they are going to be growing and blooming very soon! You are an awesome example of how God wants us to be living our lives.

Linette said...

What a beautiful post Heather! I'm in tears. We just never know how God is going to use us. Thank you for sharing this with all of us!

Don and Lisa Osborn said...

Heather,

I am so thankful you shared this story. It is beautiful and I truly appreciate how HONEST you are. The older I get the more I am aware of how we just never know how God intends to use us.

Thank you for celebrating the moments of your past and recognizing how that has shaped you into the beautiful person you are today...

Love you,
L

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