Entertaining an Angel

Becoming a Christian was the best thing that ever happened to me in my life, but it was very confusing at first.  What would be expected of me?  How am I suppose to behave?  I had always understood Christianity to mean that I had to be perfect and sinless; if I wasn’t then I must not really be a Christian.  As God began to take real situations in my life and open my heart to see the spiritual application, it changed my perception of Christianity.  I realized that becoming a Christian meant that I could start a new life and begin a journey with God.  This story is part of my early journey with God and what He taught me about being obedient.

For several months I had been without a job.  I wasn’t really looking for one but I wanted to do something more productive with my life.  I received a call from Naomi, the secretary at my church.  She had a job offer and I accepted.  I was on my way to fill out the papers to make it all official when I stopped to pick up a combo meal from the local burger joint.  While waiting to order I decided to get two combos and take one to Naomi as a thank you.  I had never been to lunch with her and I didn’t know what she liked, so I got hers the same as mine.  I felt very proud of myself for doing something nice for someone else and could hardly wait to get to the church.  About that time I remembered that sometimes a volunteer comes to help her.  What if she was there and I didn’t get her anything, so I decided that I could give her mine.  This meant that I would have to see if she was there before I ate any of my food or drank my soda.  Just when I thought the problem was solved I wondered what I would do if they were gone to lunch or already had plans, then I would have extra food, and reheated burger and fries are gross.  As I was dealing with this dilemma in my head, I saw a man on the side of the road in front of a convenient store.  He looked to be barefooted and his clothes were old and worn.  He had long blonde hair matted with dirt.  I had never seen him before.  I live in a fairly small town and it is uncommon to see people on the roadside like that but he was my answer.  If they already had plans, I said to myself, then the extra food I could bring back to give to him.  Again, just when all my problems were solved, God said, “Give it to him now.”  “Wait, what, NO!” I exclaimed as I sped up, “I got that for Naomi.”  And He said again, “Give it to him now.”  “But Lord,” I said in disappointment, “I want to give it to Naomi, that’s who I bought it for.”  He said, “Naomi is taken care of, I want him to have it.”  By this time I was about a mile down the road.  I turned around and headed back to the store with a whole new argument.  “What am I going to say to him Lord?  I don’t want him to think I am looking down on him.  What am I supposed to say?  ‘Here, you look like you could use some food’ or ‘The Lord told me to stop and give this to you.’  I don’t know what to say.”  God said, “Don’t worry about what to say.”  When I got back to the convenient store,  I didn’t see him.  I was afraid that I had argued with God too long.  But, just as I was about to give up hope, there he was walking across the parking lot.  I walked over to him calling “Sir”, and my eye was drawn to a couple in a car, they were looking at me as I walked toward him.  I heard the man say, “Oh, I thought you were talking to me.”  I turned my attention back to him and said, “Oh, yes sir, I was talking to you, I’m sorry…”  I don’t know what I said after that.  Something about a friend and extra food.  He was following me to my car when I said, “It is only going to waste if someone doesn’t eat it.”  I lead him to the passenger side and pulled a hamburger and fries out of the bag; I handed it to him along with a coke.  I never looked at his face I only saw his hands.  I watched him walk away struggling to carry everything.  Then, a couple getting gas caught my eye, they were watching me, as I watch him.  I didn’t look for him after that but he was headed for the back of the store.  I got in my car and continued on my way, but I was only a few miles down the road when I realized that I did not give him a napkin.  Then an avalanche of mistakes came rushing into my head.   I didn’t give him ketchup, salt, or a bag!  I had an empty bag sitting in the seat next to me that he could have used to carry his food.  I didn’t need that bag; it was serving me no purpose. And how could I leave without telling him about Jesus!  I didn’t tell him about the Lord!  It was so hot that day I could have let him sit in the air-conditioned car to eat, then I could’ve shared Jesus with him.  While I was beating myself up for all the wrongs I did, God said, “Thank you for being obedient, you did fine.”  I always look for him when I pass that convenient store and remember the day I pleased God.

This story is one that I cherish because looking back I believe that I am the only one that saw the barefooted, long-haired man that I fed that day and God taught me a lesson in obedience.  God didn’t ask me to share Jesus with that man, He didn’t ask me to give him a ride, or give him a napkin, bag, or condiments.  God asked me to give him the food and told me not to worry about what to say, and that is what I did.  Be careful that you are not too critical on yourself.  Just obey God and enjoy your journey with Him.

Sharon Hoskins

Desperately Seeking

I thought I would begin my first blogging experience by sharing my first short story that ignited my love for writing.

Oscar

One Saturday morning during a festival in our town I woke to a strange sound coming from the back yard.  I looked for the source as I let my dog, Oscar, out but I didn’t see anything and went back inside, when I returned to let him in he was gone and I could still hear the sound.  As I stood there yelling for him, I spotted several hot-air balloons passing over head.  It scared me because they were so low I could talk to the pilots, then I realized that they must have scared my dog too.  It had only been minutes since I let him out so I walked around the yard calling his name for several minutes with no response.  I went out the back gate and called for him around the block but still nothing. By this time people were starting to get out for the day and I grew scared that I would never see him again because many people were in town for the festival and I thought someone would take him home with them.  My husband and I didn’t have children so Oscar was like our baby and the thought of losing him was devastating.   Hours had passed with no sign of him, so I decided to go to where the people were with some recent photos; surely someone had seen him.  I asked around the crowd but not a single person recognized him.  I was so desperate to find him that I began to walk the main street.  Traffic was backed up for a couple of miles and I showed his picture to every car asking, “Have you seen this dog?”  With everyone shaking their heads “no”, and tears rolling down my face I responded with, “If you see him will you call the shelter so he can come home to me?”  I said it over and over to everyone.  Finally, I got a break!  A nice couple stopped and told me where they had seen him earlier that day.  I was so excited at the thought that he would still be there.  I was near my house so I ran to get my car.  I stopped inside to check if the shelter had called and at the very moment I was walking in the front door Oscar was coming in the back.  It was so great to have him home; he had been missing for six hours and we were both exhausted.

I had made plans to go to church for a special Saturday evening service but at that point I was simply too tired.  But when the time came to leave, I decided that I would go after all.  The nation had just experienced the awful tragedy of September 11th it was less than two weeks old and everyone’s lives had changed.  The preacher began to speak to us about being desperate and asked, “are you desperate?”  I thought to myself, I was earlier today.  As I spoke those words, I saw myself walking down the street so desperate to find my dog.  Then I saw Jesus walking where I had been and He was showing pictures of all the lost souls asking, “Have you seen this lost sheep?”  As tears rolled down His face He responded with, “If you see them will you ask them if they know Jesus so they can come home to Me?”

This changed my life!  God took a physical experience and gave me a spiritual application.  After that Saturday service, I told my pastor what had happened, and he said, “You need to write that down!”  And I have been writing ever since.

Sharon Hoskins

First Blog

I have always loved the idea of blogging!  Imagine, I can share my thoughts and experiences with absolutely nobody and everybody at the same time. I love to write, it doesn’t even matter if anyone reads it, I just find great pleasure in writing down the “aha moments” God gives me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it is wonderful when I get feedback from something I have written, of course that feels good, but it’s not the driving force that pushes me to write, it’s a desire in my heart.  I have always wanted to blog!  But, unfortunately, I am a technological dinosaur and don’t have a clue where to start or how it works.  This is my first post as a blogger, so now I will be on my journey to learning all the blogging do’s and don’ts.  Now, it’s time to find out what happens next!  I am so excited!!!

Directions

The other day I got lost trying to get to an appointment.  I had a map, an address, and even directions, but even with all those instructions, I still was not able to find the facility.

I know that sounds crazy, I had looked at the map and read the instructions so I was pretty confident that I knew where it was, but when I got to that location, it wasn’t there.  I stopped and read the map again and according to the map, it should be right where I was sitting.  Apparently, my map was wrong or I had misinterpreted the instructions in some way.  I drove up and down the streets and turned around several times.  I made several phone calls to no avail.  At one point, I thought it was hopeless and I would never arrive on time, but I finally was able to reach someone who knew how to get there and instructed me as I drove.  I thought about how sometimes we get lost in our walk with God.  We think we know exactly where we are going, but when we get there, we are lost.  I have done this many times in my Christian journey, and I have wondered if my map was wrong, or if I misinterpreted my instructions.  I have been guilty of calling on the wrong person to help me find my way, driving up and down streets that only lead me in circles.  But when I have gotten tired of being lost, I found the right One to call on, the One who knew exactly how to get there, and could instruct me as I drove.  “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he has known My name.  he shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.  With long life will I satisfy him, and show him My salvation.”  Psalm 91:14-16  I pray this encourages you in your journey today.

Sharon Hoskins

Unconditional Love

I learn so much from my kids about God’s love for us.  I’ve heard other people say this very same thing, but I didn’t understand what they meant until I had kids of my own.

Of course, we have an unconditional love for them that we don’t naturally have for everyone, the same way God loves us.  They will always be ours no matter how many times they mess up; we will forgive, just as God does for us.  We hate to discipline them when they do wrong, but we must so that they will know right from wrong just as God does for us.  This morning, after dropping my daughter off at school, my 5-year-old son, asks, “Why do we have to give you a kiss every day before we get out of the car?”   My response was, “You don’t have to give me a kiss every day.  I would like a kiss every day, but you don’t have to give me one.”  He was then silent.  When we pulled up to his school, he peeked around the seat to give me a kiss.  I said, “You don’t have to give me a kiss if you don’t want to.”  He responded with, “I want to give you a kiss because I love you.”  It reminded me of how God gives us free will in our life.  He wants us to give Him a kiss every day because we love Him, not because we have to.  God doesn’t put a requirement on His love to us; let’s not put a requirement on Him to receive our love back in return.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  Matthew 22:37.

Sharon Hoskins

Change is Beautiful

My daughter, Rachel, and her grandma Kathleen love butterflies. It is so cute to watch the two of them when they see one. They get so excited, their voices squeal as they run to see how close they can get. Rachel loves to scoop them up into her hands and hold them.

My step mom has a collection of beautiful butterflies in a frame on the wall. They are vibrant colors of yellow and blue. Now I won’t pretend that I know anything about butterflies, so I couldn’t tell you what kind they are, but what I do know is that the butterfly is one of the most beautiful insects I have ever seen. There are many different species, colors, and life spans, but the one thing that is consistant with all of them is their beauty. Butterflies are beautiful, not just in color, but also in their movements as they flutter through the air. When we consider the butterfly, we find the beauty only comes from the change in its life.  Change is a beautiful thing! It is a natural result of growth. When we grow, we change, and when we change, we grow. When God makes changes in us, He wants us to grow. It’s not always easy; it often hurts, and takes time to work through, but is well worth it when the beauty of our life begins to break out of the cocoon. “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter end. There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.” Proverbs 19:20-21. Allow God to make changes in you, that you may emerge a beautiful butterfly.

Sharon Hoskins

 

Relaxing Change

We all need day to sleep in and lay around half the day in our pajamas, right. For me, this day is usually a Saturday. The kids are out of school, daddy is home from work, and if nothing else is going on there is no reason to hurry up.

It’s a good day to rest and enjoy each other. I realize that this is not the case for everyone, if fact, many people have to work on Saturdays as well as through the week, so the only day they have to sleep in and spend time with family is on Sundays. I’ve heard people say this is why they don’t go to church. Sunday use to be the day that everything in town was closed so very few people worked. If you needed something on Sunday, you might find a convenient store open. Times have changed and now more and more people have to work. I know we can’t go back in time, but it would be nice if Sundays had stayed the same throughout time. I love to wake up on Sunday morning and gather my family to go to church. It is a time when we can learn more about God and His word, a time to draw closer to Him, and a time to find strength for the days ahead. I know that every day is important to spend with God, but there is something special about Sunday that causes excitement for me. Maybe it’s because we are coming together with other believers in one accord or the anticipation of what God may say through the mouth of His servant. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and if filled all the house where they were sitting” Acts 2:2. I pray that you will fit church into your schedule this week and find the excitement of Sunday morning worship.

Sharon Hoskins

 

Beautiful Changes

The snow is so beautiful this morning as the sun begins to rise. My kids love to play in it and I love to enjoy it from a distance with a nice cup of coffee and a warm blanket.

snow-and-coffee

I remember the days when I loved to make snow angels, snowmen, snowballs, and any other kind of snow things as long as I was in it, but now I don’t even want to go outside when it’s on the ground. It is funny how we change as we grow, not just on the outside but also on the inside. Yesterday my daughter shared with me three things she wants to be when she grows up and I remembered myself at her age sharing what I wanted to be. Now, all grown up, I didn’t become any of them, because I changed as I grew. Growing is such an important part of our life cycle, not only physically but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It is important to be healthy in all these areas of our life and part of being healthy is growth, but our spiritual growth is the most important because it affects us physically, mentally, and emotionally. How we think, feel, and look will change as we grow in Christ.  I know this may sound crazy but it is true. Examine your own life and see if it’s not true for yourself. “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” 1 Peter 2:2. If you haven’t changed then you haven’t grown. It is important for us to grow and change to become more Christ-like (Philippians 2:1-8). I was looking at a person’s Facebook page the other day, they wrote something that made me curious about their faith. I became very confused when I found that they proclaimed Jesus, but at the same time had pornography posted everywhere on their page. It makes me sad to know that there are people who really don’t understand what it means to know God, who have said a prayer, but never change or grow. If you haven’t grown or changed since you said your prayer, please take a moment to open your heart, receive all that God has for you in a relationship with Him, and allow some beautiful changes to take place in your life.

Sharon Hoskins

Adventure

I have always had a lot of respect and admiration for the real cowgirls. I see them as brave and strong, willing to step into the unknown and be adventurous. I think if I had an alter ego, she would be a cowgirl. Cowgirls are not wimpy, squeamish, or afraid to get dirty. Horses are hard work, but a cowgirl doesn’t notice because she loves it.

change2

I have ridden a horse but I am NOT a cowgirl; there is a difference. If I compare myself to a cowgirl, I would have to say that the closest I could get to being one would be my Christian walk. I think spiritually we have to be like cowgirls. Being a Christian is not an easy life, but we don’t notice because we love it. We have to be brave and strong, willing to step into the unknown with God as He makes changes in our life. Even if we are a little wimpy or squeamish, God gives us the courage to move forward in spite of our fear. Being a Christian is an adventure when we allow God to guide our path. He will lead us down trails that we can’t see around the bend, through waters that we can’t tell how deep, and over mountainous terrain that we can’t determine how high we’re going. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; who shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1. This scripture says it all. I guess I can pretend that I am a cowgirl spiritually and enjoy the exciting adventure of living my life with Christ.

Sharon Hoskins