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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Casting Crowns

I feel a bit like posting this is tooting my own horn, but I had to share with you an e-mail I found in my mailbox this morning:

Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to this choir. You are a vital part of the choir and very special to me. I can always count on you having a smile on your face and know that it is genuine. Thank you for all the many times you have prayed for me. You and your family occupy a space in my heart and I pray for you daily. Just wanted you to know that.
Love ya,

Wow! How can you get an e-mail like that and NOT have your day be fabulous??? Let me be clear that we should NEVER do things based on the motivation of the reward/praise we might receive for them on this earth. And, if NO ONE ever says thank you for anything or acknowledges in any positive way your actions, but you are doing them to please God based on His calling for you, that should not matter.
HOWEVER, flip that around. How nice was it for me to receive these words today? I can tell you they made me glow. It is more touching to me than I have the ability to express.
And how often do we offer praise to others? Ouch! That's where it gets you doesn't it? So nice to receive, but so seldom ever offered.
That has really been a passion of mine. I really want people to know how much I appreciate what they do and what they mean to me. A few years ago now, I had a "birthday" project for all my friends where I gathered kind thoughts/letters of appreciation about them from others and put them all in books for them to keep. We all decorated the books together. It was loads of fun. Lest anyone think I deserve the credit, the idea came from 2 places. When I sang in Sweet Adelines (there's something I forgot to put in my 100 things...and I even sang in the opening ceremonies to the Atlanta Olympic Games while I sang with them....How do you forget something like that?), we had a retreat, and all weekend long we all wore a piece of paper pinned to our backs with hand prints traced on them called "A Pat on the Back". Then, others wrote on it all weekend, but you could not see what had been written until we went home at the very end. The other part of the idea came from our experience with a Christian spiritual renewal weekend. One afternoon, they handed us a bag and told us to go find a quiet spot to read. Inside the bag were notes that our sponsors had gathered for the weeks before the retreat from others in our lives. The one that made me cry the most was from the youth group that my husband was the pastor of. I STILL have that bag full of notes. That, combined with letters I have received like the e-mail this morning, are the type things that would go in these books. They are for those down days. The ones where nothing goes right. The ones where you wonder if you are making a difference. The ones where you cry out to the Lord, and He brings to you remembrance of that book and all those people whose lives you HAVE touched doing His work.

I imagine that's what Heaven will be like. When you get your crowns. The difference is, then, you get the honor of casting them at Jesus' feet. I know the good I do does not come from me, but is God working through me. Until I can cast my crowns at His feet, I can be assured, even on those "off" days, that just the simplest gesture, like a genuine smile, might be what makes a world of difference to someone.

Lest this at all make it sound like I've got it all together, let me confess that my biggest stumbling blocks comes in first, being consistent with the praise, not just going in spurts, AND affording my FAMILY the same type of recognition I give my friends. Some of you are soooo good at making your husband feel like he IS your knight in shinning armor. You seek ways to make his life easy. I know that I should do that also. Yet I still get annoyed when the garbage does not go out on garbage day. I need to be WAY MORE forthcoming in my praise of him. And my mom. And, yikes! HIS mom. Funny, the Bible says, "Honor your mother and father." NOT "Honor your mother and father until you become one yourself." BOY, do I have miles to go on that one.
Although there are a MILLION more meaningful ways to do it, an e-mail is a great place to start. I challenge EACH of you to go RIGHT NOW to your e-mail and shoot off a quick note to someone telling them how much you appreciate such and such or how great they are at this or that. Go. NOW. Be the reason someone else is glowing...
until later,
obm
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