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~ Written by Viki Rife

She came to our house with her family and several others from our church. These precious people had volunteered to help us replace some deteriorating landscaping at my parents’ home. She seemed a bit bored and lost, until she picked up a rock and carried it over to place it in the correct spot as part of the project. Paying careful attention to instructions, she let it down as gently as she could in exactly the right place.

Her mom and I could have gotten the job done faster. Instead, we coached and encouraged her as she poured herself into the work. She was as relieved as anyone when the job was finished, but she was also glowing with accomplishment. She had contributed to the community. She had helped produce something valuable. The next time she saw people working, she would likely find a way to offer her services.

I went inside the house to find my dad chuckling in his armchair. He nodded toward her. “She just wants to be a ‘people.’” Isn’t it true that in our deepest hearts, we want to be treated like a person, someone who has something to offer to the rest of the world?

This understanding helps me whether I’m working with children or with adults. Every human being deserves respect, because all are made in the image of God. And every human deserves to be helped to discover and use their gifts and abilities for the good of others.

Let’s look around and see who needs the opportunity to make their contribution. Let’s take the time to mentor and coach them, so they can grow to be effective participants in God’s harvest.

Let’s help them be a ‘people.’

(Photo used with permission)

~ Written by Viki Rife

It was great news for our family when we learned that one of our favorite restaurant chains was putting  a restaurant in our town. We weren’t the only ones who paid attention whenever we drove by to how much progress was being made. The time came when the final trim was up and everything looked great! 

The restaurant was starting to hire, and we started counting the days until it would open. But the restaurant didn’t open. What in the world happened? 

Before it could even open, the new structure had started to crack, and it was sinking in some places. The building was falling apart. It was unsafe. The entire building had to be torn down, and longer pilings, long poles driven vertically into the ground, had to be added to provide a more solid foundation. The builders had apparently tried to take short cuts, underestimating the instability of the marshy ground. 

Sometimes, we need to take inventory of what it’s going to take for us to stand firm. We need to be driven deep into God’s Word and gain an understanding of who God is. We need to take the time and effort to drive deep, through the murky marsh of this world’s beliefs, to find solid ground to build our lives on. 

Don’t build your life in a way that will allow you to fall apart. Instead, invest the time and effort to make sure your spiritual foundation lasts. 

~ Written by Viki Rife

As a young mom, I was floored by a friend’s comment. “I’ve chosen to be a stay-at-home mom because my family is what matters most to me in life,” she said. She went on to list research that shows the importance of quality and quantity time, statistics on the influence of mothers, and the comparison of costs with both parents working, etc. She was very well informed on the subject.

My problem was this was the same friend who was always trying to send her kids to someone else’s house so she could “get things done.” She whined constantly to the rest of us about what a pain her kids were. The fourth-grader made breakfast for the younger ones while Mom slept in every morning. My friend was always on the phone or had her nose buried in a book (this was before Facebook) and couldn’t take time to help her kids with homework.

The truth was, up until that point, I had never seen any evidence that her family mattered to her. Believe me, I know how hard it is to be a stay-at-home mom. And while I respected the list of reasons she used for staying at home with her children, in no way was I convinced that she believed them. It was in her head, but not really in her heart.

Don’t we often do that with God’s truth? We can refer to whole passages that tell us what we should do, and we’re quick to tell others what they should be doing. But is our faith actually believable? When people see us, can they tell we are really committed to the God we claim to love? My friend’s story challenges me to check myself and make sure I’m actually living what I say I believe. And if you see a discrepancy between what I say and what I do, please call it to my attention. Don’t let me continue in my unbelief.

~ Written by Viki Rife 

I had slipped into my parents’ bedroom to hide my toys from my little sister, who was learning to crawl. I must have been about three. Immersed in my fantasy play, I talked aloud to myself. Then my mother called for me from the kitchen, and as I stood up, I saw her. A stranger was standing in my parents’ room, watching me. She had a square face, droopy blonde hair, and squinty green eyes. 

I hated her on sight. Not only was she ugly, but she was spying on me. How dare she!

I took a step toward her and raised my hand to slap her. Only then did I realize I was standing in front of a mirror. That ugly creature was me!

The discovery rocked my world. There was only one solution. I would have to become as invisible as possible. If no one noticed me, they wouldn’t realize how ugly I was.

Invisibility became my security. When people don’t notice you, they don’t expect anything out of you. You don’t get attacked for your opinions. You can creep unnoticed through the back passages of life, observing but not participating in the drama.

My efforts to be a wallflower did not succeed—for one simple reason. We were not created to hide. My soul longed to be a part of the dance of life, to contribute something to the conversation. Only through time spent in God’s Word did I finally realize I was not created for invisibility. 

I am created in God’s image, and He has called me to represent Him. While it is true that I must decrease, it is also true that He must increase. We must not hide from our commission to take Him to a needy world.

~ Written by Cassie Harris

“I don’t want to work fast food; it’s too degrading. I don’t want to work in a factory; the hours are too intense.” I held back biting remarks as my friends explained how much they were willing to pour into a career. They wanted the benefits of a job and simply didn’t want to work for those benefits.

Before I could get angry at their portrayed laziness, God quietly reminded me how much I do the same thing with Him. I want God to use me, I just don’t want Him to inconvenience me. I want Him to change my heart, but only if He keeps things convenient.  

What would our faith look like if we actively pursued Christ? How differently would our lives appear to those around us if we took the steps necessary to become like Christ? What message does it send to a nonbeliever when they only see a person who is unwilling to do his or her part in living out their faith in Christ? 

Oh, to remember that we are called to pursue the Lord with all our might, soul, and heart.

~ Written by Viki Rife

She walked unsteadily into the room, dragging her blanket and rubbing her eyes. Maybe it was the sound of her big brother Skyping with me that woke her up from her nap. He was animatedly showing and explaining his latest Lego construction.

My two-year-old granddaughter, shy as always, stood back and watched us interact. Suddenly her face lit up, like she was experiencing an “aha!” moment. She ran over to the table where the computer sat and, before anyone could stop her, climbed up. The next thing I saw was just one eye as she peered deeply into the monitor. It was as if it had hit her that Grandma was inside this screen, and she could get to the real grandma if she could just look inside.

I was touched by her efforts to find me. Do you suppose God feels the same about us? In a world that wants to reduce Him to a two-dimensional, limited God, don’t you think He rejoices when we realize that there is way, way more to Him than we can see? I’m so glad He’s a multi-dimensional God.

Now all we can see of God is like a cloudy picture in a mirror. Later we will see him face to face. We don’t know everything, but then we will, just as God completely understands us. – 1 Corinthian 13:12 (Contemporary English Version) 

Tie My Shoe

  
~ Written by Viki Rife

When my daughter was 4, she had a best friend she spent a lot of time with. One day they got into a fight. My daughter was crying as if her heart would break. “Jenny,” was all she could get out through her sobs. It became obvious that she felt her best friend had betrayed her. 

It took a while, but she finally calmed down enough to say, “Jenny won’t tie my shoe!”

It’s hard not to laugh when your child is in such distress. It was also hard to convince her that the reason Jenny wasn’t doing it was that Jenny didn’t know how to tie shoes either. In my daughter’s mind, a friend should always come through when needed. 

Don’t we as adults have the same problem sometimes? We expect our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends to do what they are not capable of doing. God has told us over and over again in His Word that He is our only source of fulfillment. While relationships with others are an important part of our Christian life, we cannot depend on others to give us what only God is capable of giving. 

Instead of getting angry at those around us for not measuring up to our expectations of how they should meet our needs, let’s make it our practice to go to God to satisfy the longing of our soul, and let others off the hook.

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