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Oct 2017

Hoarders: Christian Edition

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Hoarders: Christian Edition

Have you ever had to move before? It is my deepest hope that you’ve never had to experience something so deeply horrifying. But chances are that you’ve moved at least once in your life. I happen to somewhat enjoy the newness of it all: getting to pick what furniture goes where, the excitement of something in your new living situation that is better or at least different from your old one.

The part I absolutely abhor is the packing beforehand. Jonny and I have been married for 3 ½ years, and we have moved three times. Let me tell you, that’s too many in my book. I moved from north Texas to south Texas to Michigan to another house in Michigan.

Initially, I thought that after our cross-country move from Texas to Michigan, we had successfully gotten rid of all our junk. The house we first moved to in Berrien Springs was a lot smaller than the apartment we had in McAllen, so we downsized a lot. So, when we moved to another house in Berrien springs last July, I figured it would be pretty simple. Fill a few boxes here and there, throw some trash bags over my hanging clothes (that’s a neat life hack I found on Pinterest), break down the furniture that needed to be broken down, and voila! Move complete.

Boy, was I wrong. It’s amazing how much junk you can accumulate when you keep hiding it away in drawers and under beds.

It wasn’t until I got all my stuff out in the open that I realized how much of it was utterly useless. I guess Jonny and I had gotten stuff throughout the year we lived in that house, and just packed them away instead of doing something useful with them. Once all my junk was out in the open, I could figure out what to do with it. And I had made more room for the things that were actually useful.

Maybe the “junk” we build up in our hearts isn’t physical stuff, but it does tend to crowd out the valuable things that are supposed to be there. Guilt, addiction, anxiety, and low self-esteem crowd out joy, peace, love, and selflessness. Isaiah 64:6 says, “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”

The best thing to do is to get it all out in the open. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal those messy spots in your life. The stuff that needs to be cleaned up. Then, do something about it. What good would it have been for me to see all the useless stuff taking up space in my drawers and cabinets and say, “Wow, I have fifteen Tupperware lids that fit exactly zero bowls,” and then just pack them away as if they still served a purpose? That’s just taking up valuable space where I could put my Tupperware that still have lids attached!

Don’t get stuck in the junk, and don’t give up. Present your mess to God, and he’ll help you clean it up.

 

Stephanie Wilczynski has been involved with Enspire Productions since 2009. She is pursuing an MA in English and Religious Education at Andrews University.


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Becoming Like Children

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Becoming Like Children

Bobby was just a normal kid at 6 years old, fighting with his brother on the daily, and learning to play sports with his dad, when one day Bobby’s dad walked out of the room while Bobby was sitting on the couch. All he can remember is Bobby screaming "I can’t see, Dad! I can’t see!!" This was the first of two strokes Bobby had as a child. Bobby was diagnosed with brain cancer at 6 years old. Now a 10 year old in a 26 year old's body, legally blind, deaf to the point that he relies on a cochlear implant, he has broken both hips and is bound to a wheelchair. Every morning and night consists of taking upwards of 7 medications to keep his seizures under control. This is the young man I have been blessed to take care of each week.

It didn’t take long for Bobby to open up to me. He loves that we are the same age, and he’s never had a ‘friend’ as his caretaker before. A typical night consists of him telling me how amazing it is that we're both 26, telling me how much he loves his old country music, watching a movie that he has undoubtedly seen 20 times, and just hanging out while he sings along to “I believe I can fly.”

It was two weeks into taking care of him that we were just sitting and talking. He started to tell me about his cancer and how he used to be able to walk and play and run and jump. I couldn’t imagine being in his position. But he didn’t stop there. Without a missed beat he went on to tell me how he couldn’t wait for Jesus because one day he was going to help him walk and jump again and that he would help him hear and see, too. I got into the conversation with him and told him I couldn’t wait either, and that he was right, Jesus would help him with all those things, and that he might even help him fly one day. I’d never seen him move so fast. "HE’LL HELP ME FLY?!!!! I DIDN’T KNOW THAT!!!! Wow. Oh my! Sheesh!!" I assured him that Jesus would help us do so many things. Our conversation went on and I asked him if he’d like to pray. It was the most sincere and innocent prayer I have ever heard. His prayer went on for 15 minutes thanking Jesus for being so awesome and thanking Him for everything that He was going to do in his life in the future. Later that night I laid down on my air mattress in his room and I could hear him praying again and again thanking Jesus for helping him walk and hear and see again when he comes. Bobby had no doubt.

Matthew 18:3 said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” This is all I could think about that night and the days to come. There is a beauty in the faith of a child. There is power in their innocence. We are so quick to grow up in the hopes of not being children any longer than necessary… but there are so many things I’ve lost as I’ve become an adult. I’ve allowed the world to fill me with its skepticism. I’ve allowed myself to ‘be realistic’ about things. As if Jesus and the gospel are about realism. My innocence has slipped away as I allow things into my head that are "meant for adults." Things like music, movies, conversation at work… and I use the word ‘allow’ for a reason, these are all choices that I’ve made, whether I’ve felt they were ‘necessary’ choices at the time or not, they were my choice.

Jesus is on his way back to help Bobby walk, see, hear, and maybe even fly. He’s coming back for his children whether they are 6 or 82. I want to be his child. I can’t make it on my own. I need my Father to guide me and carry me along. I don’t need to do it alone anymore. Lord, make me like Bobby. 

 

Jeremy Rogers is studying nursing at Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, TN. 


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A Dairy Bad Choice

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A Dairy Bad Choice

Have you ever found yourself doing something incredibly amazing knowing that what you were doing would eventually lead to consequences shortly after? I for one have experienced that since before I could remember.

Since I was a child, I have been plagued with stomach issues. The pain would come about rapidly and without warning causing grief not only to myself, but to my family as well. I remember one time, we were in the middle of traffic in Beijing, China when my “tummy attacks” happened. I began to black out, have cold sweats, my stomach curled up on itself, and my breathing became labored as the pain intensified. My parents desperately tried to tell the cab driver to find a restroom, flipping through our translation book to no avail. I willed myself to hold on and my prayers have never been so fierce. After years of testing and assumptions, I was finally diagnosed as lactose intolerant. I had to say goodbye to my most favorite things, cheese, ice cream, and pizza!

Although I knew that by eating dairy, I would experience excruciating pain, embarrassment, and a waste of time, I continued to choose to eat dairy. My sisters would chastise me and say, “You’re going to regret it!” My dairy eating choices even wound up in my husband’s wedding vows! “When you have eaten too much cheese and diary, EVEN THOUGH YOU KNOW YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO, I’ll have the Mylanta ready when you are done in the bathroom.”

It wasn’t until one of my moments when I was in regret prayer mode that I realized something. My repetitive dilemmas were not only preventable and repetitive, but were a mirror image of a message that God has for us. The dairy in my life represents temptation. I love dairy with all my heart and would indulge in the moment knowing that later, consequences would follow. The indescribable pain I would feel represents the consequences that come with sin. Daily, we purposefully choose to sin, knowing that what we were doing is wrong in God’s eyes and yet, we choose to “live in the moment” because it feels great at that point in time. It is become a cycle that had been harder to break each passing day.

Thankfully, we have a God who has left us with a book of answers. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, it says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape, so that you will be able to endure it.” NASB With God’s guidance, daily prayer, and my love for Him, I know that anything is possible to overcome with the power of God.

 

Alejandra Rodriguez Clark is an elementary school teacher and currently resides in McAllen, Texas.


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