Archives For thankfulness

Why Doesn't He Send Me Flowers

The flower delivery van drove up and parked in front of the office. Seeing the van through the windows, a co-worker announced “someone” would be getting flowers. However, we all knew that “someone” was one of two people in the office. The only two people to ever receive flowers from their husbands.

The delivery driver walked around the van, opened the door, and pulled out a large, beautiful bouquet of vibrantly colored flowers.

As we looked longingly at the bouquet coming through the door, we all began to lament how our husbands lacked the “I-think-I’ll-buy-my-wife-flowers-for-no-other-reason-than-I’m-romantic-and-I-want-to-show-her-how-much-I-love-her” trait.

A sense of disappointment and irritation began to flicker deep inside me and I began to vilify my husband in my mind. What kind of a husband never thinks of doing anything romantic for his wife?! How hard is it to simply dial a phone number to order a bouquet? I mean, criminy, it’s not like the guy has to pick the flowers and wire them together to arrange in a girly vase on his own! It’s a phone call! I wonder if I can get him into a remedial romantic class somewhere!

As the day wore on, my thoughts and attitude toward my husband worsened. By the time I arrived home from work, I was determined to let him know just what I thought of his un-romanticism. Since I arrived home first, it would have to wait.

By the time my husband’s car turned into the driveway, my sharp words were ready to hurl as soon as he walked in the door. But after waiting a few minutes, I heard him leave again in my car. Curses! The intense fellowship I had planned would have to wait.

Enough time passed without my husband coming home, I had no choice but to start on supper so we could get to our son’s basketball game that night on time.

As I started frying hamburgers, I heard the garage door open and my husband pulling into the driveway. He was home. And I was ready!

When he walked in, I turned to launch into my character assassination but before any words could leave my mouth, he pulled me into a big bear hug. Fine! I’ll take the hug but THEN we are having it out.

As he continued to hug me for a full minute, he told me how he bragged on me to his co-workers about the wonderful supper I had made the night before. He began telling me how lucky he was to have a wife who was such a good cook and how amazing the burgers smelled.

He then pulled away and said, “I filled your car with gas and checked the tire pressure. One of your tires was low so I added some air. I also checked the oil which looks good for now but I need to keep my eye on it. There may be a leak and I don’t want you to break down in the country. Oh, and I returned your library books that were in your car. And I also got money from the ATM for your lunch with your friends tomorrow so you won’t have to go by the bank first.”

The more he talked, the more my anger melted away.

Each sentence was like receiving another flower. He was putting together a beautiful word bouquet before my very eyes. How could I have questioned his worth as a husband?!

Gas and oil may not be the most romantic things a girl can receive but It is romantic knowing he is concerned with my well-being and safety. He genuinely enjoys taking care of me. And he’s proud to call me his wife.

My husband may not pick up the phone and order bouquets but that’s okay. I receive plenty of bouquets through his words and actions.

My thoughts were interrupted as my husband finally ended his lovely word bloom with, “So how was your day at work?”

Disarmed, I replied, “It was……uneventful. I couldn’t wait to get home to talk to you!” *wink*

What “outside-the-vase romance” do you receive from your husband?

©2016 Connie Davis Johnson

Let Go of the Past

September 2, 2015 — Leave a comment

Louise Smith quote

Engage Your Story

February 11, 2015 — 2 Comments

Bob Goff Engage Stories quote

Bob Goff Typical quote graphic

© 2014 Connie Davis Johnson

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By Angie Faulstich

There is a danger in becoming a parent.  After I bundled up my newborn and took him into my home, that wee little one took over my entire world. It took all of my effort and more strength than I thought I had to keep my little guy alive.

From midnight feedings to mid-afternoon snacks, my mission was to keep my little one fed, dry, warm, and safe. But, as time has passed, Aidan is becoming more and more independent, and he needs me a little less with each passing day.

After an extended break from school over the Christmas holidays, Aidan went back to school, and a large chunk of my heart left with him.  The loss feels like- well, to be honest, it feels like you may just as well have carved out a piece of my heart with a spoon.

That’s how it felt in the beginning as well.  His first semester of kindergarten did not go well for me.  I felt alone and lost, without a purpose.  I grew tired of spending my days alone at home.  And while still not sleeping well most of the time, I just felt tired.  So as the days of Christmas break came to a close and there were no more snow days or 2 hour delays in sight, I began to fear that the emptiness would return.

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It was an emptiness that could not be filled by anything of this world.  Not hobbies that I enjoy.  Not my favorite foods.  Not entertaining movies- even the good clean ones.  Not even the thought of taking on a job outside of the home could fill the empty hole in my heart.

My life lay before me as a beautiful tapestry cut into a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  The puzzle was finished save one last piece that should have filled a hole near the center of the picture.  And as hard as I searched, high and low, around the puzzle, on the floor, inside the box, in the cabinet from which the puzzle came, I could not find the missing piece.  It was lost.  And I could not fill the empty hole in my heart that I knew had been stolen from me when my son went away to school, and I was no longer needed.

I sunk into bed after their first day back to school, and I cried, “Lord, I cannot live alone anymore.  I feel like I’ve been left behind.  There is emptiness in my soul that I cannot fill, and I do not want to be alone anymore.”

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And then startling words flooded into the cavern of my soul.  From somewhere deep within, I heard the words: “You don’t have to be alone.”

Instantly, I knew He was right.  The Savior of my soul was the missing piece of the puzzle.  And it suddenly dawned on me.  No matter what stage of life I find myself in.  No matter whether my children are home or away at school.  No matter where in the world I find myself, as I often dream of traveling and going on great adventures.  No man, child, friend, food, or entertainment can ever become the missing piece in my puzzle.  For if they do, I have left myself in grave danger and in desperate need of the only One who can ever fill the missing piece of my heart- and that is Jesus.

He has now promised to walk with me through these days of uncertainty.  And I will each and every morning invite Him to lead me through them.  And somehow now I feel hope.  Hope that one day I will feel whole again.  Peace that He will mend my broken heart.  That He is and always will the missing piece to my puzzle.  If I make Him that piece, I will be whole.

I just have to keep inviting Him in, and I can’t let anything else take His place.

Is there an emptiness in your life that needs to be filled?  Is God the piece that is missing?

My incredible guest writer today is Angie Faulstich.  Angie is a child of God, a mother of two bright and wonderful sons, and a wife to an amazing husband.  She is the author of a weekly newspaper column entitled “Finding Peace” that encourages readers to turn to God for all of their needs so that they, too, may experience everlasting peace.

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© 2014 Connie Davis Johnson

Billy Sunday quote graphic

© 2014 Connie Davis Johnson

I’m not a fan of resolutions.  As I think about the changes I would like to make in the coming year, I feel like a failure for not achieving those changes in the past year….again.  And beginning the year feeling like a failure is a sure-fire way for my resolutions to fizzle out…….again.

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Rather than making resolutions, I spend some time reflecting on the accomplishments of the past year and I encourage you to do the same.  Look through pictures or the calendar to aid in remembering all that was achieved in the past year.

Did you get the oil changed in the car?  Did you clean out a drawer or closet this past year or spring clean a certain % of the house?  What books did you read?  Did you do a bible study, pray daily, or do devotions?  Did you learn to take care of your body by staying properly hydrated drinking 8 glasses of water a day?  How did your family spend time together?  Did you participate in a canned food drive?

By contemplating on accomplishments made, you will realize the successfulness of the past year and be ready to build on those achievements this year.

Review the past year in the following areas and make goals in each area for this year:

Personal growth

How did you grow personally in this past year?

  • What books did you read?  Recreational reading is also important as we need time to relax and recharge.
  • Did you do a bible study/specific devotions/read the bible in a year/etc.?
  • Did you pray daily or most days of the week or month?
  • Did you enjoy any of your hobbies or do things you like during your free time?
  • Did you develop your strengths or weaknesses by taking a class, finding a mentor, seeing a counselor, or reading specific books?
  • Did you ever give more than take?

Health

Were any lifestyle changes made?

  • Did you drink more water?
  • Did you cut back on soda?
  • Did you limit sweets to once a week?
  • Did you only go out to eat only 3-4 times a month?
  • Did you learn to eat more fruits and vegetables?
  • Did you decrease your plate portions?
  • Did you find a few activities to love and do to stay active?

Family

What investments were made in your family?

  • Did you enjoy any family nights?
  • Did you plan and do any activities during the Summer or holidays/weekends?
  • Did your family go on vacation or spend any weekends away together?
  • Did your family do any mission or volunteer work together?
  • Did you study the bible as a family or one on one as parent/child?
  • Did you tell your family members you love them regularly?
  • Did you hug your child often?

Giving

How did you give of your time and money?

  • Did you volunteer at the local soup kitchen or with another organization?
  • Did you go on a mission trip (domestic or international)?
  • Did you donate unneeded items to a local mission?
  • Did you supply canned goods to local food bank?
  • Did you support a missionary/favorite cause/organization/family in need financially?
  • Did you make a meal (freezer or fresh) or provide a gift card for friends or family going through a difficult time?

Organize and clean

How did you take care of your house and property?

  • Did you clean out or organize any cabinets, drawers, or closets?
  • Did you clean out the garage?
  • Did you clean up or add anything new to the landscaping?
  • Did you clean out or organize toys?
  • Did you clean out any files?
  • Did you add pictures to any albums?
  • Did you do any car maintenance?

Finances

Were any positive changes made regarding your finances?

  • Did you pay off any credit cards?
  • Did you use coupons?
  • Did you make a budget?
  • Did you take advantage of sales rather than pay full price?
  • Did you save any money?
  • Did you eat at home rather than eat out?

This is not an all-inclusive list so please feel free to add your own questions or areas.

In order to realize success in these areas this year, white space will need to be created on the calendar.

How do you spend your time daily?  Can less be spent on social media or watching TV?  Can you travel less for work or cut overtime hours?  Is getting up earlier a possibility?  A shorter lunch may provide some time to perform a few tasks.  Are there any other areas that can be cut back to realize your goals this year?  Decide on priorities and fill in the calendar with those first.

Did you do all that is on this list and will you be able to carry out all you set out to do this year?  Probably not.  And that’s okay.  All growth and achievements are something to be celebrated no matter how small.

Even if you’ve never realized your success in the past, I urge you to recognize it now.

I would love to hear what you plan to accomplish this year!  Please share in the comments below.

© 2014 Connie Davis Johnson

Desire to be Weak!

June 18, 2013 — 5 Comments

91300442Today begins our long journey to our final destination in Ecuador.  We left at 5:30 this morning.  We will experience 3 planes and 2 layovers, one of which is 8 hours long.  If all goes well, we should arrive tomorrow at 10:30 AM.  Sleep deprived, we will hit the ground running with orientation, lunch, a quick tour, and then beginning our work project in Portete, a long drive from where we are staying.

Today and tomorrow, excitement will mingle with nervousness and sleepiness.  Meaning there may be times when we will be silly, emotional, confused, groggy, and comical.  We will likely feel quite weak when we arrive.  How will we find the strength to actually work?

Saul (later called Paul) was brought to a point of weakness during a life-changing moment on a road he was traveling.  Saul had been breathing out murderous threats toward Jesus’ disciples and His followers.  He hated Jesus’ ministry and was determined to crush it.  He was a man who struck terror in the hearts of the people.

However, on this day on the road, a bright light suddenly appeared that made him fall to the ground.  It was Jesus wanting Saul to answer for persecuting Him.  Jesus told Saul to go into the city and he would be told what to do.

Saul was then struck blind.  He didn’t eat or drink anything for 3 days as he waited for instructions.  All the power given to him by man did him no good during this time.  All of the strength he had built within himself failed him now.  He was brought to a point of utter weakness.

Finally a man named Ananias showed up and told Saul Jesus had sent him so he could see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Saul’s sight was restored and he began eating and drinking which gave him strength.

He then began preaching telling others about Jesus.  (Acts 9:1-22)

It’s quite remarkable for a man who once hated Jesus to become one of His most effective leaders.  By making him weak, Jesus was able to change Saul’s heart and use him in many powerful ways.

Although each of us on this mission trip have followed Christ for a while, there are times we, too, must be brought to a point of weakness.  We must be completely emptied of ourselves and our own agenda so He can work effectively through us.

So even though it may seem disastrous to begin a mission trip so tired, we are being brought to a point of weakness for a reason.  We are trusting God to fill our weakness with His strength, fill us with His power, and do what He desires.

Please be praying for us!

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

Other posts in this series:

A Scary yet Amazing Trip

Does God Shop at Garage Sales?

God’s Going to Fail Me!

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

Disclaimer:  These blog posts and other social media activity contain my own personal views & opinions and may not represent the views, beliefs, or ideas of my teammates or the church I am involved with currently or have been involved with in the past.

 

It’s 4 days before my daughter and I join 13 other people from our church for a mission trip to Ecuador.  The reality of what we are about to do is finally beginning to sink in.  Although I’ve been to Ecuador before, there are still butterflies.

132077687Will any of us be detained in the airport?  Will we find ourselves in a difficult situation because we don’t know the language or culture?  Will I be able to keep my daughter safe?  Will we get sick from the food?  The worries are sometimes overwhelming.

However, even though we are nervous, we are also excited.  We get to meet new people, attempt to communicate when we don’t speak the language, try new foods, see beautiful landscapes we may only see once in our lives, and spread the love of Christ in the process.

I’m personally excited to share this experience with my daughter.  The last mission trip really changed my perspective on life and I know it will do the same for her.

Affecting me in a deep and profound way were the two home visits we made in Quito, Ecuador.

One was the home of a disabled couple.  We discovered this couple must maneuver a wheelchair and walker up a damaged walk, climb a few stairs, and navigate some tight corners just to reach their front door.  Once inside their 2 room apartment, we found it furnished with only a couple of plastic lawn chairs.  A clothesline was strung across the living area with clothes drying above the concrete floor.  They had very little food in their tiny kitchen with tiny refrigerator.  Apparently any refrigerator is a luxury in Quito so they were blessed by someone who donated it to them.

100_2410The 2nd home we visited belonged to a mom of 5 kids, one who has cerebral palsy.  There was a steep staircase from the street leading down to their apartment.  The 2 room apartment with a concrete floor was sparsely furnished similar to the 1st one.  The other room held two beds that all six shared.

The kitchen, big enough for only 1 person to stand in, had no refrigerator or stove.  The bathroom was outside and was shared with the woman upstairs.  When one of the kids needed to use the bathroom, the mom was forced to lock everyone else in the apartment while she took the one outside to use the facilities.  And to top off everything, the mom had to carry her child and her wheelchair up the steep staircase whenever she needed to leave the house.

The missionary who arranged the tour explained the dad abandoned this family and left them to fend for themselves.  The mom had recently been fired from her job because she was caught stealing food from her work’s kitchen.  The little money she made could not feed her children, so in utter desperation she resorted to stealing the food her children needed.  This explained the meager food in the house. 100_2425and1

I suddenly felt the need to escape this woman’s apartment.  Choking back sobs, I ached to be alone.

The shame I felt was overwhelming.  Just a few days before leaving for the trip, I had complained about our carpet and countertops.  The stress of getting ready for the trip made me snap at the kids and my husband.

The appalling need in front of me was making me come to terms with the overly blessed life I was taking for granted.  Even more distressing was their joy in contrast to mine.  By their standards, I had it all and yet lacked joy.  By my standards, they had nothing but had unmistakable joy.

My longing for more rather than being content with what I had was stealing my joy.  When my family didn’t meet my expectations, they were subjected to anger and frustration.  In comparison to the Ecuadorians, the love for their family superseded all other needs.  Somewhere between the altar, the delivery room, and now, I had allowed that joy to turn to stress.

I came home a different person.  My family comes first (after my relationship with God).  Time with them is protected as much as possible.  All requests for time already spoken for on my calendar receives the same response, “I already have something on the calendar for that time.”  I have found this garners more forgiveness than the unwillingness to sacrifice time with family.  And since I use it regularly, nobody knows when my time is filled with obligations or family.

And when the “I wants” threaten, I turn off Pinterest and pull out photos from these home visits.

I can’t wait to see how God uses the experiences on this upcoming trip to change my daughter.

We may be nervous at the unknowns.  But we are also eager to get there and do what God has asked of us.  To learn the lessons He has for us.  To experience the culture and scenery.  And hopefully make a lasting impact on the people we serve all while God is at work changing us to become more like Christ.  It’s going to be an amazing trip!

You may also like:

Perfect Mom?  Hardly!

Can Anger Be Controlled?

Finishing Last

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson

87823077Rain and cold made it a miserable weekend for a garage sale.  But I pressed on anyway with our “Pay what you want” garage sale to raise money for mine and my daughter’s mission trip to Ecuador.  I was a bit worried nobody would show up to shop.  And I was also concerned with how people might respond to paying whatever they desired.  It was entirely possible to empty the garage and only have $10 to show for all my effort.

Throughout the two days of the sale, there was a steady stream of people.  Some paid much less than what some items were worth but most paid more than I would have asked.

Throughout the two days, as I huddled near a space heater, I sat amazed at the generosity.

One family came in and the mom explained to her children they could choose their own price and the money would be going toward a mission trip to Ecuador where little kids would be helped.  Her four children, ranging in ages 4-9, brought their own money to spend.  Choosing small toys, without any prompting from their mom, each gave generously because they wanted to “help the kids in Ecuador.”

One woman came in, looked around, read the sign about the trip, and began talking with me.  She shared she and her husband would soon become missionaries to Papua, New Guinea.  We had a nice visit and at the end of our conversation, she handed me $20.  She bought nothing but simply wanted to support our mission trip.

The sale was surprising on another level also.  Throughout the two days, items I thought would be popular were still on the tables and racks.  Due to friends donating merchandise to the garage sale, there were many cute girls and boys clothes, baby clothes, and shoes for boys and girls, none of which were selling.  It was baffling.

139970264I had so much left when it was time to wind down the garage sale at 1:00 on Saturday, I chose to make all remaining items free.  It was a bit selfish on my part because it would save us from having to cart all of it somewhere to donate.  However, I prayed people would come in that had a need and would be blessed by whatever they took.

An older couple came in and were completely shocked to hear everything was free.  The husband and I visited as the woman filled bags with toys and clothes for their grandchildren.

In talking with this gentleman, I discovered he lost his parents at a young age so he and his brothers grew up in an orphanage.  As we talked, another couple came in.  When I explained everything was free, the woman became extremely excited.  She was like a kid in a candy store, filling bags as fast as possible.

As the woman worked, she shared she was from the Philippines.  She married an American and moved to the States but her family still lived overseas.  She went on to tell how the flooding in the Philippines had taken everything from her family and their entire community.  Many kids run around in their underwear because they have no clothes.  To help, this couple looks for clothes and sends as many packages to the Philippines as possible.  The woman works at a second-hand store because they allow her to take the items that don’t sell so she may send them overseas.

152987306This couple had come to our neighborhood garage sales hoping they could find some good deals on clothes.  I told them their timing was a God-thing.  I explained I had prayed all the items at our garage sale would be a blessing to those receiving them.  I also shared how most of the clothes and shoes had failed to sell and I could not understand it until that moment.  All those items were meant for this couple.

We filled the back of their truck with clothes and shoes that would soon be headed for the Philippines.  They thanked me profusely.  I waved them off telling them they had blessed me way more than I blessed them.  When I walked back in the garage, the man I had been visiting with before looked at me and said, “That was beautiful.  Growing up as an orphan, I can’t tell you how much that scene touched me.  I used to love it when the Lutheran truck would roll into the orphanage because I knew I would be getting some new-to-me clothes.”  He then opened his wallet and gave me what was left, $20.

Two women came in as the man and I talked.  Hearing us discuss the couple sending clothes to the Philippines and about our mission trip to Ecuador, one of the women walked over and handed me $20.

There are some truly wonderful people in this world.  So when world news discourages, criticism crushes, or daily life overwhelms, look past the bad.  You will always find people who are willing to display incredible generosity, astounding kindness, and impressive courage.  They not only encourage us but they make us feel as if everything is going to be okay.

And by the way, our garage sale was a success and brought us within $200 of our mission trip goal.

Does God shop at garage sales?  He may not shop but He certainly shows up.

You may also like:

How Should I Pray for Myself?

A Marriage Beyond Hope

10 Ideas to Show Love to a Stranger

©2013 Connie Davis Johnson