Lessons at Poppy’s Kitchen Table

PoppyThis past February, I had the beautiful opportunity to visit my grandpa in the hospital prior to his passing and share a last conversation with him. It was a precious time spent recounting all my favorite memories with him and telling him just how much his life meant to me, his youngest grandchild. One of my fondest memories I shared that afternoon was our early morning breakfasts at his kitchen table where I would always ask him if he would make me toast because “no one makes toast as good as my Poppy.”

I’ve often laughed at myself for remembering this simple act of my grandpa so vividly, until recently when I discovered it’s true significance in my life. My grandpa, being the great teacher he was, wasn’t just making his granddaughter toast, he was teaching me how to serve.

We serve with our TIME
Even though my grandpa was retired from a formal job, he was in no way lazy or in need of something to do. He was devoted to his church, his farming land, and his family, yet he didn’t see the request of his spunky and stringy-haired granddaughter as an interruption, but as an opportunity. An opportunity to show me he cared about me-even in the little things. When we hear the word “serve” we often associate it with big acts of sacrifice that require a huge commitment to give of time. And how in this crazy-busy world can we find enough margin in our lives to dedicate that much time to serve others?

While some acts of service we’re called to do can require us to clear space in our lives so we can dedicate a large portion of our time, we often overlook opportunities to serve because they are disguised in the simple things. Serving is not something we do, but rather is a lifestyle and our service can take place in the small bits of time we have in our day. We just have to be willing to see them.

We serve with HUMILITY
My Poppy’s hands were highly skilled. Being a farmer, my grandpa had some of the strongest hands I’ve ever seen. They wrangled cattle, tossed thousands of hay bails, and firmly held the reins to his massive Belgium horses. Making toast was by no means my grandpa’s highest calling. He accomplished many great things in his life and was very wise, yet he still chose to serve me toast with those skilled hands. I can often get caught up in the lie that if I am not constantly achieving more, doing more, and using my talents, I am not truly serving God. Yet, in the life of Jesus, we see a very different image of service:

“[Jesus] Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.”
Philippians 2:6-7

God showed His greatest act of love, not by using power and might, but rather by choosing to take on human form. He showed love through humility. Don’t get me wrong, using our gifts and talents to serve God is a great thing, but we should not overlook the power of service done with humility when we lay our egos and our logos aside.

We serve with LOVE
My grandpa carried a lot on his shoulders as the patriarch of our family. Yet, he still maintained a spirit full of love when I would interrupt his conversation with my requests. What might have seemed like an inconvenience to break away from what he was doing, he saw as an opportunity to extend love to his youngest grandchild.

It wasn’t an obligation or sense of guilt that drove my grandpa to serve me. If his spirit was unhappy each time he made me toast, those memories would not be pleasant; quite the opposite, actually. When we serve others without a loving heart, even if our acts meet their exact needs, our efforts are meaningless. As 1 Corinthians 13:3 puts it, “ . . . I’m bankrupt without love.” (The Message)

No act of service is too short, too small, or too insignificant for God. While there are times where service does mean a radical charge from God to go out and do something which seems impossible, that’s not always the case. God gives us all opportunities to serve each and every day, which often parade around as seemingly insignificant moments; monotonous even.

I’m forever grateful for the powerful lesson my grandpa taught me each morning he made me toast: to serve, all you need is a little bit of time, a humble heart, and a loving spirit.

Battleground

When you look at someone and view them as the enemy, that’s dangerous ground to walk on. Trust me. It leads to jealousy, bitterness, hurt, and broken relationships. Not the best path to walk down.

Whenever I catch my mind drifting to that sort of thinking, I am quickly reminded of the verse Ephesians 6:12, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

I’m thankful for these “truth slaps” that I often get from my years and years of reading Scripture. Even though I’ve read it’s contents a million times, I still have a hard time living out what it says I should do in my daily life. But I don’t give up there and simply refuse to no longer read the truth I so desperately need. Those millions of times I’ve read this Scripture is the very same reason why I can catch myself living contradictory to what it says.

My challenge to you is a challenge to myself: don’t view others as the enemy. They’re not the enemy, but a battleground. A vessel containing an intense war on the inside. Two forces are fighting for their hearts each and every day. When you look at someone and refuse to give into the lie that they are the enemy, your perspective changes. Your heart changes.

You no longer ask yourself, how can I fight against them, but rather, how can I fight for them?

Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. | Mendolin

Under The Table

under-the-table

Middle school is rough.

You feel like a ball of raging hormones, your social circles are changing more than ever, you’re in what feels like “maturity limbo,” you’re beginning to realize that life isn’t all about birthday parties and ponies, and to top it all off . . . the pressures to perform well in sports and at school are increasing. I know. I was basically a walking billboard for how awkward and difficult those 3 LONG years were. But you know what? I survived. I learned a lot from it all, too.
They say experience is the best teacher, and I would have to agree. When I approach ministry, I have a different vantage point and understanding than our kids do because I have been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. One of my best learning experiences came out of middle school. It was embarrassing and profound all at the same time, and that combination always makes for a good read.


Before I get started, remember what I said about the whole ball-of-raging-hormones thing? Yeah, keep that in the forefront of your mind.

I grew up a pastors’ kid, so I had always been at church and had longed to be in the youth group since as early as I could remember. But today, I had finally arrived. I was in the youth group. In fact, it was my very first event in the youth group at church.

My brother, who is 4 years older than me was an old pro. A 10th grader who was a pretty solid part of the group. His class was the largest. The coolest girls were his friends. I was set. I remember walking in with a confidence I had never felt before. I could just imagine them all saying to each other, Look! There’s Mendy. She’s Jonathan’s sister, she must be so cool. Today was going to be great. So what did I do?

I went crazy.
I went overboard.
I was annoying.
Remember that part about being in maturity limbo? I was there.

My brother was there to witness it all. He sat back in horror as I completely bombed my attempts at portraying coolness and confidence. So, my brother did what any loving brother would have done in a moment when his sister is making a fool of herself. He approached me calmly. He pulled me aside. He started to quietly talk some sense into me.

Looking back, he was being such a good older brother-so mature! He was protecting me and looking out for me by discretely calling to my attention that I was making a fool of myself; however, my 6th grade self did not see this at the time. I saw my older brother trying to embarrass me. I saw my bossy brother correcting me in front of all my new friends and trying to make me look bad. So, I did what any middle school girl would do.

I tackled him.

Yes, a 6th grade girl flattened her 10th grade brother. It was me. I did it. Ball of raging hormones moment.

And then I immediately realized what I just did. In front of the ENTIRE youth group. So, again, I did what any middle school girl would do. I ran from the scene and hid underneath a table and started to cry. Another ball of raging hormones moment.

But what happened afterward is what I remember the most from my first day in the youth group. What I vividly remember was my brother’s response.

Immediately after I had flattened Jonathan and ran away to cry under the table and hide in shame, he got up off the ground and started to search for where I had gone. He found me curled underneath the table, got in there with me, and started to again explain to me what he was trying to tell me from the beginning.

He told me that he cared about me. That he wants what is best for me. That he doesn’t want to embarrass me, but that he thinks I might need to calm down a bit. He was telling me something I needed to hear, but didn’t necessarily want to hear. Only this time, I was listening. I knew he was right. He was trying to save me from embarrassing myself, but instead my inability to trust and listen resulted in me making things worse.


So yeah, middle school is rough. At least my experiences in middle school were.

As I work with students, I often go back to this moment in my life. I try to put myself back into my 6th grade self and look at the world through that lens so I can begin to understand what our students face and how they might feel. How they might take the words I’m saying, whether it be a joke or a moment where I’m trying to speak words of truth into their lives.

When those conversations don’t go as planned, I look back to when I was underneath that folding table in the lobby of my church. I see how my brother made an effort to look for me and to get under the table with me. I see how, that day, my brother showed me how Jesus responds to all of His children-even the annoying ones. He searches for us. He lovingly calls us out of our hiding and our shame. And when we don’t have the courage to come out, he gets under the table with us.

This week, how will you seek out others? How will you loving share truth and let them know there is a life out there that is better than second-rate? How will you meet them where they are at, under the tables where their fragile hearts are hiding, and show them Emmanuel, God with us?

A Lesson I Am Still Teaching Myself

Graduation

It was a month before I was to graduate from college and I found myself in the office of my university’s president. Sitting on the other side of his massive desk along with a male classmate, we were asked to give that year’s graduation speech. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you I was scared to death at the thought of standing in front of my peers, professors, family and the rest of the normal graduation attendees to share my thoughts about the past 4 years and my hopes for the years to come. As I listened to him talk about his vision for that morning, all I could think was: My dad may be a pastor, but I think God skipped me when he was dishing out the public speaking gene. I had grown accustomed to that saying over the years.

But, in an act of boldness (or, let’s face it, stupidity) I said yes.

I was going to share words of truth and inspiration for everyone in attendance to hear?

The morning of May 15, 2010, I was introduced and walked up to the podium in my cap & gown. In that moment, all eyes were on me as I spoke these words:

“I’m sure when all of us set foot on this campus roughly 4 years ago, we briefly
thought about how our college experience would go. Visions of all night study
sessions, Ultimate Frisbee on the lawn, weekly chapel, and making new friends
flooded our minds making us fearful, excited, and nervous all at the same time. For
some of us, all of those things did in fact happen, but one thing is for sure: all of us
have experienced so much more than we could have ever imagined during our time
here at SNU. Sure, we learned valuable lessons inside the classroom, but for me, the
most important experiences I’ve had throughout my four years at this university
happened outside of the classroom walls.

I was one of those individuals who had thought through what my time here at SNU was going to be like, and was sure of how things were going to pan out. I was going to make great friends with fellow students, never deal with conflict, listen to lectures that only would
reinforce the thoughts and ideas I already had formed, have a perfect 4.0 GPA, and avoid any real pain by having a well thought out and detailed plan for my life. It didn’t take long for me to realize that those plans I had for my life were not going to happen. I overlooked a few things: I didn’t factor in other people and their decisions, and most importantly, I underestimated the power of God. My plan soon got off track from what I wanted. Accounting ruined my hopes of that perfect GPA, I heard lectures that challenged me to think more critically about life, and I suddenly was forced to make important life decisions on my own.

Panic soon set in.

As a child, I was a daredevil. I would climb any tree, talk to anyone who would
give me their attention, and jump from any height – and I mean ANY height – onto
my trampoline with my brother (sorry mom). But as I’ve grown a little older and learned
more about life, that fearless attitude is a little harder to come by. When we were
young, we didn’t have to have plan for our life, that was the responsibility of our
parents. Now, as all of us have grown up a bit, the decisions we have to make are
different and seem to carry more weight than simply choosing which ice cream flavor
we want after our tee-ball game . . . I often wish I could go back to those days.
While at college, I’ve been exposed to the severe hurt that exists in this world,
and have come to a deeper realization that my life here on the earth is finite. These
two realizations, while difficult to ponder, have made a profound impact on my life
and the choices I’ve made. They have taught me the importance of taking risks, and
to truly live my life for something that will outlast it.

During the first semester of my sophomore year, I read the quote,”if we are
afraid of the future, afraid of change, then we miss out on what God has called us to
do.” It made an impression on me, and I decided to pursue something outside of
my comfort zone. The next thing I know, I’m on a 12 hour flight from Los Angeles headed towards Auckland, New Zealand for a 2 1/2 month mission trip for the
summer. I had never been out of the country before and I was unsure of how I was
going to pay for the trip.

I took a risk. And it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Nothing I had imagined prior to leaving the country came close to what I experienced during that wonderful summer. From hiking through some of God’s most
beautiful creation, to ministering to the local Maori youth at Te Ora Hou, my whole
perspective started to transform. For so long, I had been seeing the world through a
tiny pin hole, and after one summer, that view was stretched, altered, and forever
changed as I saw God at work in the global Church. I learned that you can
never “out-imagine” God no matter how hard you try.

For me, taking a risk and changing my outlook meant going on a life-changing
mission trip, and I’m positive there will be more leaps of faith I take. As each of you
venture out into the world after this morning, your important decisions may take on a different form. You might buy or sell in the stock exchange, set aside your career
later in life to be a stay at home mom or dad, travel to a developing state in the
Global South to administer medical care, or simply strike up a conversation with a
familiar face at a local coffee shop. No matter how big or small they might seem,
each choice can be difficult in their own way, but remembering that your life is finite
can be the most influential tool for following your heart and making those bold
decisions. It’s when we realize we have nothing to lose, that our greatest moments
take flight.

Right now, similar feelings that we had our first day on campus have invaded our
minds again as we stare towards a life with either an immediate career search, or
the continuation of our education. While many of us are just as confused about what
to do in life as we were when we started, may our passions and our heart be our
guide through the maze that lies ahead of us. Howard Thurman said it best when he
stated, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

As each of us leave go forth from this pivotal moment in our lives, may we never
forget what each of us have in common: we are all called to serve God and serve
others with a relentless, and selfless love. Congratulations Class of 2010, we did it.
Now as we graduate and begin anew, it’s up to us when and where that love will be
shared, so take a risk, and let your passions provide an avenue for you to love
others deeply. “

My very own words seem to still be teaching me today . . .

Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.

mc

Early Morning

Well, it’s about to be 7AM here as I write this, but my morning has been going since I woke up at 4AM thinking there was a knock at our front door. How can I sleep through the shuttle landing’s sonic boom that shook our house, but lay wide awake from “thinking” I heard a knock at the door? If you can figure that one out, please tell me so that I can make sure it doesn’t happen again!

After fighting myself for 30 minutes, I got out of bed and went to the living room to try to MAKE myself sleepy again. After reading a few chapters in the Bible, catching up on Twitter, thinking of butterflies, and getting comfy on the couch, I finally gave up and turn on the light. Why does this thing always happen on Saturdays? I can sleep in as long as I want, yet something in me won’t let that happen- the phone will ring, I will get inspired the night before to go to garage sales, I will agree to volunteer for an early morning church event. Now, don’t get me wrong… not all of those are bad, but I wake up most weekdays wishing it was a Saturday so I could sleep until noon. Yet every Saturday that comes up, ends up doing more damage than repair on my body. Ugh.

I think my body is going through changes again. I used to be up at 6AM every morning as a kid. No matter what time I went to bed, I was up and at ’em! This was great for me because my dad was usually up and willing to treat me to a Daddy/ Daughter Breakfast Date. This pretty much lasted until I went to college. Weird schedules and not firm bed time because of assignments and random outings helped me to learn the art of sleeping anywhere and at any time. Once in a comfy bed and a Saturday morning ahead of me, I could sleep in like no one’s business. Only a little over a year out of college and I’m not skilled in that art. I wake up early on the weekends, and I’m at work by 8AM every morning. That’s a far cry from my first class of the day at 11:45AM last semester of my Sr. year.

So, I’m getting up earlier again. To make matters worse, Tomy can sleep in (grrr). On the rare occasion he’s up early with no obligations with a sports season, he’s not very big on eating breakfast… Who wants to eat pancakes and bacon alone? Not me!

The optimistic side of me is actually looking forward to having a productive day today. On top of all of the other things I’ve done so far, I’ve made a long list of things to do today. Most of them came from the worried thoughts that infiltrated my mind as I laid in bed trying to force myself back to sleep. So, I was expecting to be Sleeping Susan this weekend and wound up with Productive Polly. I’ll take it, I guess. The only opportunity is to let Grumpy Gretchen come, and I really don’t like that alternative.

Good morning, Florida! I’m ready to see what this day holds!

“Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.” -Ruth Ann Schabacker

 

 

Do Justice . Love Mercy.  Walk Humbly.

// mc

Love

Hoping that you feel loved today.

In case you don’t, remember that the Creator of all things-the lovely trees of Autumn, the cool rain, the peaceful lakes, and warm fire- love YOU.

Tune your heart to sing the song that’s woven within you and join the orchestra that echos across the world.

Do you hear it?

It’s beautiful, captivating, and liberating. Come on and sing along.

Remember Remember the 5th of November:

Yesterday Tomy and I went to the house we’re buying for the inspection. While we were there my sister-in-law, Michelle, decided to come see the place as well! It was a fun time walking through the place and letting my imagination take flight once again.

It’s less than a month until we close- November 5th- and I am starting to have dreams about slumber parties, baking with friends, and playing with Zimri in the backyard! It’s crazy how impatient I can get when I know what I want and I make a final decision to go through with something. The Activator in me is in full swing… let’s do this!

Anyway, I know that several of you are wanting to see pictures of the place, so I’ve collected a few to give you all a sneak peek of the place. Obviously, it’s still their furniture and their decor, but when it’s ours, I have some pretty neat plans for it all! I CAN’T WAIT to show you all the before/ after pictures!

Sorry about the poor quality. I couldn’t find my nice camera, so I had to get by with my phone:

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