“Look people in the eyes, smile and say something nice.”  We used to tell our kids that all the time when they were little, teaching them to see PEOPLE, not just strangers as we went about daily business.  I was thinking about that on my run this morning.20130817_100950

Today I counted 21 people I made eye contact with, and exchanged a “good morning” with.  I lost count of those I only exchanged waves with.  That’s just one of the things that’s great about running outdoors.  People.

You don’t have to go running to find people.  Remember as you’re busy going place to place to look.  Really see people, give em a smile and say something nice.  No one wants to be invisible.  You never know how far that exchange will reach –or how much a reward you get by the return smiles!

Jesus Squeezes

Ever wonder how Jesus would approach you if He walked into the room right now?

I was thinking about this recently on an exceptionally draining day.  I was hungry for a hug.  I wouldn’t see my husband for hours and all I could think about was a big, wrap your arms around me and let me melt, papa bear hug.

The more I thought about it, the more I wondered, “How would Jesus embrace me?”

The song I can only Imagine by Mercy Me, came to mind.  It’s a great song full of imagery, provoking a question of what it would be like to approach Jesus were we to see Him face to face.

But I wanted to know; how would He approach me?

Later that day, my eyes were drawn to a truck in a parking lot.  The tinted rear window caught my attention.  On it were two bold lettered words; Jesus Squeezes.20130426_124024

Those words hit me as if Jesus had walked up in person, picked me up, and squeezed me with all the joy and intense affection I could handle.   Jesus Squeezes!

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.  I have drawn you with an unfailing kindness.”  Jeremiah 31:3 (New International Version)

Though He is gentle in wooing us, God doesn’t hold back.  He’s deeply passionate about us.  How could He not be when He sent His only Son to die on the cross for us?!

When we look to Jesus, God’s greatest representation of love to us, we find He is already watching us with caring eyes.  His arms are wide open, expecting nothing. He welcomes us with acceptance, strength, comfort, protection and passion!

Are you aware of the presence of the One who longs to embrace you most?

How would He embrace you?  What would He have to say to you?

What happens when you close your eyes, sit quietly and just listen for the voice of Christ.  He’s there.  Are you willing to be still?  Will you recognize His presence?


Together IS Better

Recently, our Pastors have been sharing how Together is Better in community.

Community means our children have a place to call home beyond the doors of our houses. Community pulls us together in tough times and moves us to action with  compassion towards others.  The community built on the foundation of Christ is the community whose great reward is His presence among them.

I thought about our community as I left the building.  I’m on staff, so typically when I leave, I run through a recap of the day.  Following is a random sampling of Sunday details from one person’s perspective.   It’s a stream of thoughts, snapshots of real people with lives of purpose focused on God and one another.

My recap goes something like this: Okay at the first service there was that really cute young couple with little Kaylee.  They visited last week and returned this week.  Ryan and Jamie.  Sherry and I and others talked about how glad we were to see them back.

Sue was there today after being out for back surgery.  I’d love to chat with my friend, but Sundays are reserved for others.  Mary knows that too.  She gives me a big hug and says, “Okay, I’ll catch up with you Tuesday.”  That thought reminds me, “Lord, thank you for healing Bryan’s back and Jinko’s migraines.”  I look forward to seeing them back.  It’s interesting how you can become closer to people just by praying for them.

Then there was the young woman I thought was in college.  She came by herself.  That takes courage.  After inviting her to our Young Professionals group, she politely told me she was 32 was looking for an older crowd.  “Everyone always thinks I’m in college.”  (nice problem right?!)  I hope she comes to our small group.  I could see her connecting with Dezi, Cristina and Lauren.  Dee, that was her name. Yes!  Okay, three new names.  There actually was a college student though.  What was her name?  Courtney.  Courtney with freckles and a sweet smile.  So glad Whitney sat with her.  Hope she comes back Thursday!

At another service there was a mom was asking about our School of Worship for her son.  Our Worship Pastor and his new wife Carissa took time to talk with her.  I’ll ask them.

Remember to call William about the Experiencing God class time.  Oh!  It was so awesome to see Jonathan and Veronica and her belly rounded with a baby.  So many babies on the way.

On my drive home I continue to process.  We need more bins for the Back to School drive.  Four year old Marshall carried in bags of donations for other kids.  There’s a lift in people’s demeanor when they GIVE.

It was great to have Don, Darren, Larry, Peggy and others helping set up early in the morning. What would we have done without them?!

Still others want to get more involved. Jeremy.  Linda.  And Marcus and Oni.  Troy already has a name badge. And Cristina.  Carrie FB messaged me.  Contact her Tuesday.  People.  I love these PEOPLE!

Katelyn the intern served at 11:15. It was great to talk with her between greeting.  She’s so TALL.  Yes, she’s beautiful and could be a model, but her passion for Jesus and love for people have her focused on matters more rewarding than fame and riches.

And then I think about little Cooper who just turned one the same day his baby brother was born.  He always has open arms, a big smile, and bright blue eyes that shout love and joy.  Actions and eyes sometimes speak louder than words; even in a small child.

I take these thoughts and cast my vision forward.  These people are changing the world around them.  Each encounter with the people of my community impacts me. God is doing many wonderful things in them and thru them. He is just so good!

“Be devoted to one another in love.”  Romans 12:10

This is community, and community is the very core of what God is all about.