See As God Sees

November 17, 2013 |  by  |  Culture, God  |  ,  |  3 Comments  |  Share

“I asked that God would help me to see that man as He sees him if I pass him again. ” – Sara Barnes, China Missionary

This was a line that caught my attention in a recent journal entry from Sara. While walking down the street she passed a man whose face was badly burned, so badly burned that it was painful to look at. She hurried past him and later felt crushed that she had not done more.

How often have we all done the same thing? In an effort to move past something uncomfortable, we rush past, push it aside, repress it. It’s a normal HUMAN reaction. It is not natural for us to be unselfish. As Christians we are constantly being molded into the image of Christ. We are given trials and opportunities to shed little pieces of our humanity and to become something altogether supernatural. Granted, we will never become anything more than human while we are constrained by our flesh, but while we are here on earth, we get the opportunity to show Christ to others through our actions.

I, like Sara, want to do my best to pause when I have the opportunity to be Christ someone and I want to see that person, no matter how ugly, the way Christ sees them – as his beautiful creation. Let me see them through grace and love, the love that can only come from something that is not human. Love that can only come from God.

Thanks Sara for sharing your story, it touched me and I am sure it will change others too.

Here is a little more of Sara’s story:

As we were leaving the subway station, we passed a man that I remember from when Senator  and I lived in that neighborhood 7 years ago.  His face is so badly burned that it’s hard for me to describe it to you.  Hard to describe firstly because most of it is burned beyond recognition, but secondly because it is just so hard to look him that I can’t recall a complete picture of him mentally.  And today, my maternal hyper-protective instincts kicked in and I hurried the kids past, hoping they wouldn’t notice him.

I’m not sure if I thought I was protecting the kids from an image that might be too much for their young minds or protecting him from what their possible reactions would be, but after we were out of the station, one thing was clear.  Whether I had been with the kids or alone, the urge to hurry past and look away would have been just as strong.

And then I remembered the bottle cap mural, and the song, and my heart felt crushed.  I wondered if I were alone if I could sit down face to face and have what little conversation my current language skills will allow me too. (There is no danger or risk involved, these beggars sit in broad daylight amongst crowds of wealthy foreigners.)  I know that 7 years ago I didn’t.  But I’ve learned a lot about our God in those 7 years, I know better than ever that God doesn’t see as I see.  I asked that God would help me to see that man as He sees him if I pass him again.

Our current language level prohibits us from having in depth, spontaneous conversations the way we’d like to, but I am fully capable of offering someone a snack and a smile.  I even know how to ask them if they believe in Jesus and if they say no, I know how to tell them that whether or not you believe, there certainly is a God who loves you.

But in order to do any of that, we must be willing to resist the urge to hurry past.  Pray that we would have courage and boldness for such moments.  In all reality, the guests at the Renewal Center are typically quite easy to love.  They are clean and well dressed and happy to be there.  But there are still many in our midst just as desperately in need of hope, even if they have no interest in our showers.

How to ask for free stuff or discounts

September 16, 2013 |  by  |  I'm Just Sayin, Relationships  |  , ,  |  1 Comment  |  Share

As a business owner I am often hit up for free services. I run a DJ business as well as a graphic and web design business. In my business I DJ weddings mostly, but also the occasional barbecue or school dance, as well as a corporate event or karaoke party. In my graphic and web business I do brochures, business cards, fliers, customized stationery and much more. Because of the broad range of services that I provide I normally get asked at least once a week to do something for free or at a discount. What is important to note is that both of these businesses are ran entirely by one person – me. I run both websites for each business, handle the invoices and the marketing, and all of the other tasks that come along with running a business. So when someone asks me to provide services at a discount or for free I have to consider it carefully.

Often I feel obligated to help out friends, family members or even my existing clientele and I don’t know how to communicate to them how asking for free services impacts my business. Imagine if you were working your regular 40 hour per week job and your boss said, “Hey Bob, do you mind working at a discounted hourly rate this week?” Or even better, “Hey Bob, can you work this week for free?” Now if you are salary you may do that to some extent, but that is something you agreed to when you took the salaried position. As a self-employed individual working for free comes at a higher price.

So how do you ask for free stuff or discounts without hurting a relationship? My suggestion is to be very clear and up front. Let the person you are requesting services or free stuff from that you are on a tight budget and you are willing to pay for services rendered. If possible, say something like, “Hey, Jenni and I are getting married, but, we only have $500 to cover all of the food, what do you normally charge to feed $300 people.” This is a nice way of asking for a price quote, but also letting the person know that you realize their services are valuable.

If you don’t have money, then maybe you can offer to help them in trade. If they provide you with a discount then you can help promote their business through social media or doing some type of work for them.

If you are a non-profit organization and you ask for services, then be sure to let the people in the community who is supporting you by placing their company logo on your website or on the brochure and materials that are part of the event.

In my business I don’t mind helping out individuals who are truly in need, but I don’t appreciate people expecting a “hook up” just because they know me, or, they know someone who knows me. I once gave free hosting to a friend who paid me to do her website. Later I received a call from an acquaintance of hers and she said, “Hey, I hear you do free hosting!” Nope. I don’t.

Also, when you get a free or discounted service, don’t tell other people about it. I DJ’d a wedding for a friend for a very low rate because I knew that they were tight on funds. A few months later I get a call from a lady and when I quoted her my standard rate she said, “Well, you did so and so’s wedding for X number of dollars!” I appreciated the referral from my friend, but I had to let her know that my normal rate was substantially higher than what I had charged her and I thought she was aware of that.

Lastly, when you do get something for free and a people normally tip for that service, then you should still give a tip if the service you received was excellent. If you get a gift card for a free massage you are still expected to tip the masseuse.

There are a number of kind and giving business owners out there. I love to be able to pay it forward and help out when I can, but I don’t like to be used or taken advantage of either. Make sure that you say thanks and give proper credit to anyone that helps you out in life, not just in your business dealings.

 

Brutal Love

July 27, 2013 |  by  |  I'm Just Sayin  |  No Comments  |  Share

The words were sharp and cruel and they cut to the core. Like a knife slicing through a ripe tomato, like a lions claw tearing through the supple flesh of a gazelle. Too confident. Too trusting. I fell.

When you finally tear down the fortress you have built around your heart you are left exposed. Naked. Vulnerable. The cold dark place that was your soul, the one you kept hidden, has finally felt the warmth of sunshine. Joy has taken root. Love blossoms. It’s beautiful and frightening. Everything is magical, and then comes cruelty like a machete. Chop. Chop. Chop. In seconds there is so much devastation.  The agony makes you sick to your stomach. The person you trusted, the one you thought would never hurt you, hurt you the most.

But time heals the wounds. The love comes back, sometimes even stronger. But oh, the pain… in the moment it is crushing and unbearable.

This is what the devil wants. He wants us to think that relationships and love and life can come without a cost. Real friendships come with a hefty price tag. They cost our time, they require unselfishness, relationships force us to remove our self from the equation. Unconditional love has to be just that – without conditions, including the inevitable thrust of the dagger. But at the end of the day we are stronger. This constant parrying, the back and forth, the struggle, it is what forges us. We are refined by the fire of trials.

When people ask me why I’m still single the reasons are many, but this is probably the biggest one. Too often I’ve been hurt deeply by the people I care about the most. I thought that if they really loved me, then they would never hurt me, but the opposite is normally true. It’s impossible to be really hurt by someone you don’t love.

Satan has a plan and one of his best tools is to keep us isolated. To make us fear people. To fear that we are unloveable or that we don’t deserve to be loved. He wants us to always be on guard. Alone. That is when we are most vulnerable.

ButeEven God, the creator of the world, hurt when he had to send his Son to die on the cross for our sins. How much pain he must feel when he watches us moment by moment untrusting, lacking in faith, slicing away at him, bludgeoning him with our doubt and unbelief. But yet, he continues to love. What brutal love.

 

 

 

 

 

Hilton Head, South Carolina

July 10, 2013 |  by  |  I'm Just Sayin  |   |  No Comments  |  Share

I’ve been in Hilton Head for a week. Today is my last day. I used to journal all the time here on Posted Note and because of Facebook I got out of the habit, but I’d like to start up again if only so that I can look back and see where I was at in my life at that time and hopefully, years down the road, I can see that I have made progress from that point.

I’m currently self-employed. This summer I’ve already been to Big Cedar Lodge in Lampe, Mo and Kansas City, MO. In Missouri we visited a museum, but now I can’t remember the name of it – another reason to keep a journal.

I knew that this trip to the beach was coming with a full 6 months warning beforehand. I tried really hard to lose a few pounds before I got to the beach, but I only managed to stay exactly the same weight plus or minus a few pounds. I only put this information in here because one day I hope to look back on this as an educational milestone in my life. In order to get from point A to point B, you have to start moving and along the way you learn things – I hope that I learn how to eat in a way that makes me feel like I’m not being cheated and keeps me healthy.

This year I’ve lived with the most pain I’ve ever had to live with. My feet hurt pretty much all of the time now because of heel spurs. I’ve tried unsuccessfully to get into a good stretching routine to curb this problem, but I just get busy and forget. In the morning the pain reminds me, brutally. It feels as if little gnomes have been digging with pick axes in my heels during the night and each step on the way to the bathroom is grueling. But then throughout the day the pain diminishes and I forget until the next morning. Heel and joint pain are a problem because it keeps me from being able to be as active as I’d like to be. Being active would allow me to enjoy the foods I want and still stay fit, but, since I can’t be as active as I’d like to be then I need to learn to be content with less. But I’m rarely content with less. I’m all about MORE!

Vacations are always bittersweet for me. I have a blast, but they are exhausting. Being self-employed makes you feel like you should always be working or else you are losing money. I don’t mind the tether, it’s much better than the alternative, but it takes time to adjust. I’m still learning the ropes of being self-employed. I’m still learning time management.

This trip to Hilton Head has taught me some things…

I have great friends who care for me deeply. The Bruner’s always go above and beyond for me and that is humbling. Few people have friends that are this awesome and I don’t just have the Bruner’s but God has blessed me with so many individuals that love me deeply. So much so that I’m ashamed whenever I feel the slightest bit unhappy with my life – I have nothing to be unhappy about. My life is rich with everything I could desire and God has me right where he wants me.

I’ve also learned that I love the beach, but just because I’m brown doesn’t mean that I don’t need to wear sunblock. My head got a sunburn on the top and when you have no hair you can get skin cancer on the top of your head and so I want to be mindful of that.

The beach is fun, but it would be more fun with a group of people who wanted to play Ultimate Frisbee or something non-stop. I find that I’m selfish and I don’t want to play catch with the kids because I get tired of chasing down the frisbee. It’s hard being a single adult that is used to playing games with adults. Having to play at a kid level takes some adjusting.

Spending time with the people I care about is probably the most important thing in my life. Location doesn’t really matter. Yes, it is nice to be at a beautiful resort, but when you are with fun people you can be anywhere and still have fun. This trip has been fun because of the great people I’m with.

That’s all for today.

I was bullied too.

April 22, 2013 |  by  |  Culture, I'm Just Sayin, Relationships  |  ,  |  No Comments  |  Share

How does bullying start?

This video starts with a simple story that shows how something so simple can lead to bullying and a life of pain. The video continues to go through several scenarios that help people understand the lifelong impact that bullying has on someone’s life.

“You sound like a girl!” – The insult stung like a swift slap to the face. It came from one of the cool boys. The most athletic, the one with the parents that had a lot of money, the one who had never known want or pain or imperfection. Counselors will tell you that bullies will bully because of their own hurt inside and they want to feel better about themselves, but sometimes, people are just cruel because they are born that way.

Being called “Prince and Michael Jackson” became pretty standard for me. I cried easily and that made me easy prey. Recess, bathroom breaks and then later in life the locker room were all places of torment. It didn’t happen every day, but it happened enough that I hated going to school. I was called a girl, gay and fat and a few other insults. I was punched in the eye and pushed around a few times. Looking back they were all pretty minor incidents, but they happened often and enough times over the years that they left a lasting and damaging impression on me. A few years back I finally went to counseling to deal with a lot of the emotional baggage, but the residue of that pain will be with me for the rest of my life. I don’t even think that is necessarily a bad thing, it is knowledge and with knowledge there is power. Those of us that bounce back despite all odds are over comers. We press on despite the hurt and shame and do our best to prove the haters wrong – but that doesn’t happen for many of us.

What I’ve learned over the years is that words hurt and they shape us. Words are like little chisels fashioning the way we see ourselves. The words become our truth and distort our vision to the point that we are no longer able to see clearly who we really are, but instead only see the distorted picture that cruel individuals have painted for us. Being told you are ugly, fat, stupid, gay, worthless… when you hear them enough you start to believe them.

So why isn’t the awareness of the problem helping?

How many people need to die before something changes? It seems that the issue needs to be worked at the heart of the problem, but where is that? Will better parenting help the bullied children or do parents need to better educate their children who are doing the bullying? I don’t have all the answers, but I know that a zero tolerance policy would have been nice when I was in school. It seemed that the teachers did their best to help with the bullying, but they can only stop what they see or hear and they can’t be with a student all of the time. Bullying can get so bad at times that you become an emotional wreck. Extreme measures seem to be the only option and those measures normally end up being acts of violence upon the perpetrators or themselves. The only real way to solve problems is to come back to the only truth that we have and that is the Bible. We have to “love thy neighbor as thyself” – until we get that right we will continue to careen out of control on a path that leads to destruction.

Recent News of Suicide Related to Bullying

Rape Victim Commits Suicide because of bullying

Boy Commits Suicide After Alleged Bullying

Georgia Middle School Boy Commits Suicide