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A “day-annual” of Thankful Living

I’m almost to the intersection of I-70 and 64, busily speaking an address into my phone for an appointment downtown in the city.  I’m driving with my thoughts fixed on the day ahead—trying to get to the city and back before the traffic hits!!  A large white passenger van catches my attention just up ahead.  Written on the back of the van boldly stating in all cap lettering “PRISONER TRANSPORT”  “KEEP BACK 500 FT.” Suddenly my mind races with thoughts of those inside that van.  Are they male or female?  Is this their first time in prison?  Is this their final ride in a vehicle, going to a place from which they may never return?  Can they see me as I pass?  Are they looking at the fall leaves for the last time?  What did they do to end up here?  Do they know Jesus?  What will happen to them tonight—their first night behind bars?  You know how the mind works  . . . on and on the questions and scenarios play out in the mind.  My heart aches. 

So, I begin to pray—asking God that there might be someone in the prison system who would point him or her to His Grace, that He would keep them safe, and that there might be hope in their hopeless circumstance.  Please don’t get me wrong—I’m certain sin, choices, and brokenness have landed them in this situation and under the rule of law, crime always carries a consequence as it should.  But . . . as long as there is breath, there is hope!  Maybe my heart is more sensitive to the forgotten ones these days.  My world knows nothing of theirs, and I am both thankful and ashamed.  

As I ponder Thanksgiving, I can’t help but think of Ella, our youngest daughter.  Last Christmas, we gave her a trampoline, the very item she had desired to receive for years!!  Finally, we caved and purchased the monstrosity!!  Finding a warm day in the middle of winter, we went to work piecing it together.  And, would you know that every day, EVERY DAY since that trampoline has been put together, Ella has used it to complete at least two somersaults!!  Every day—rain, snow, sunshine—it doesn’t matter, she has committed herself to completing two “landed” somersaults!!  She began calling it her “annual” until we corrected her by saying, “babe, annual means yearly.”  Now, she jokingly and affectionately calls it her “day-annual.”   These are the things that make a mother’s heart laugh with joy—to see a child in sweet activity and innocence, and to see her commit herself to a discipline, a “day-annual!”  It makes me think of Thanksgiving and how thankfulness must be a discipline or we may forget. 

And, my mind goes back to the prisoners, those whose lives are broken, living in a broken place, a broken system.  I think of the nameless, faceless people at the grocery store, I think of my own children, my nieces and nephews and how really when it gets right down to it—I don’t want anyone to spend an eternity alone without God, void of the GOODNESS of GOD.  And, I wonder where our hope is in this day and age?  I know the answer, it’s God’s WORD—full of hope for the criminal, full of hope for the broken, and full of hope for me. 

 

I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart;

I will tell of all Your marvelous works.

I will be glad and rejoice in You; (not my circumstances)

I will sing praise to Your name O Most High.

When my enemies turn back,

They shall fall and perish at Your presence.

For You have maintained my right and my cause;

You sat on the throne judging in righteousness.

You have rebuked the nations,

You have destroyed the wicked;

You have blotted out their name forever and ever.

 

O enemy, destructions are finished forever!

And you have destroyed cities;

Even their memory has perished.

But the LORD shall endure forever;

He has prepared His throne for judgment.

And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness.

 

The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed,

A refuge in times of trouble.

And those who know Your name

Will put their trust in You;

For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.

 

Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion!

Declare His deeds among the people.

When He avenges blood, He remembers them;

He does not forget the cry of the humble.

Have mercy on me, O LORD!

Consider my trouble from those who hate me,

You who lift me up from the gates of death,

That I may tell of all Your praise.

In the gates of the daughter of Zion.

I will rejoice in Your salvation.

 

The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made;

In the net which they hid, their own foot is caught.

The LORD is known by the judgment He executes;

The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.

 

The wicked shall be turned into hell,

And all the nations that forget God.

For the needy shall not always be forgotten;

The expectation of the poor shall not perish forever.

 

Arise O LORD,

Do not let man prevail;

Let the nations be judged in Your sight.

Put them in fear, O LORD,

That the nations may know themselves to be but men.  Psalm 9

 

Let’s have a “day-annual” of praise, a discipline of thankfulness, and remember that this life in all its brokenness is not without hope.  Praise God for salvation in Christ, refuge in circumstances, trust that God’s judgments are right, and remember we do not need to fear when we trust Him with this life.  We are not forsaken!  We are not forgotten!  We are remembered! 

He is always Just,

He is always Right,

He is always Present,

He is always Good. 

 A “day-annual” of praise will keep us humbly on our knees for the broken, the poor, the least, the person next to you begrudgingly waiting in the checkout line at Wal-mart.   Have a “day-annual” of constant communication with the ONE who can change the world in which we live.  This is what will change our lives and the lives of those around us. 

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks;

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

1Thessalonians 5:16-18

 

Posted by Tracy Smith with
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We have been asked to share our experiences with the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) organization in response to Hurricane Harvey.

            When Hurricane Irma hit south Florida only days after Harvey tore into the Texas coast, we felt we needed to do something to help. A little research informed us that volunteers were needed—a lot of volunteers—to help ease the pain of the hurricane victims. We were accepted by the SBDR, organization to go help with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. 

            In October 2017, we traveled to Galveston, Texas to work with the SBDR in response to Hurricane Harvey. We spent a week in Texas and primarily helped with 'mud-outs,' which involves not only getting the water and mud out of the house, but pretty much everything else that has been exposed to the water, especially salt water. One particular image is seared onto my brain and heart.  One evening, while returning to the Galveston First Baptist Church where we were staying, we were on the highway on an overpass, and I was able to get a good look at one particular street.  On both sides of the street, as far as I could see, were large mounds of trash piled high (8-10 feet high). This included drywall, floor tile, appliances, furniture and pretty much everything else you can find in a home. Imagine everything you own, piled on the curb, waiting to be picked up and taken to the landfill. It reminded me of how temporary everything in life is. Everything is temporary—except one thing.

            As mentioned, the First Baptist Church of Galveston provided the lodging and the use of their kitchen for volunteer meals. We were there with thirty to forty others from all over the county. There were teams from North Carolina, South Carolina, Arizona, Missouri, and two people from Atlanta and even one from California. The volunteers were pretty fluid, coming and going at different times and dates. Most would stay three to seven days, although some were staying longer.

            Most of the volunteers staying in Galveston were there to work on the ‘mud-out’ crews. A few miles away in Texas City, another Southern Baptist Church was hosting a larger group of volunteers, which included a ‘Mass Feeding’ unit. These volunteers were preparing most of the meals served or delivered by the American Red Cross. The North American Missions Board (NAMB) website is showing two million meals prepared by Southern Baptist volunteers and served to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. During a tour of the Mass Feeding kitchen set-up on the church’s parking lot, the volunteer running the Mass Feeding operation told us that, to that point, over one million meals had been served in South Texas alone, and that particular unit in Texas City was serving six to ten thousand meals per day.

            As you can probably imagine, training and vetting is necessary to be a SBDR volunteer. In our case, the Lord wanted us in Texas, so these requirements were relaxed. We both feel led to continue to volunteer, especially since we have learned how often these volunteers are needed to help victims of storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, fires and other natural and man-made disasters. Just in Missouri, in the last few years, I can recall the tornadoes in Joplin and Bridgeton and the flooding which occurs almost every spring.

            As always, the Lord’s timing is perfect, and just two weeks after we returned to Foristell, a Missouri Baptist Disaster Relief Training session was scheduled in southern Missouri and we attended and are now certified in Mass Feeding and Shower and Laundry units. Next spring, we will attend additional training.

            If you are interested in getting involved in disaster relief, a good place to start is the Missouri Baptist Convention website. There you can find out how to apply and register for training classes. Of course, if you are unable to volunteer, your prayers and donations are always needed and welcomed.                                   

            We urge you to prayerfully consider volunteering. The need is great and you can help. Age and abilities will not prevent you from helping. In our very limited experience, we have witnessed college aged to octogenarians, and skilled craftsmen to folks who barely know what a hammer looks like. All that is necessary is a willingness to help and love for your fellow man.

            In addition, please do not forget about those prayers and donations.

            Thanks for your time.

            Tom & Claudia Maloney

Posted by Tom and Claudia Maloney with

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