Friday, January 28, 2011

Yes, winter's back, now help somebody!

Through this bitter cold we're enduring in the midwest, the east coast, and even in the south, we're "suffering" and complaining, but most of us are getting through it. Many of us have high-tech equipment to make snow plowing easier (i.e., some even have mats/special surfaces that actually melt the ice and snow as it falls to the ground); or snow blowers so we don't have to shovel manually; or we may have automatic car starters to warm up and defrost the car before we get inside, so we can comfortably conquer our commute.

And yet, there are larger parts of the world that have never even seen snow. Many have never oopsed, slipped, and fell to the ground on a hidden patch of ice. I've met many people from around the world who came to the Detroit metro area, actually eager to see their first snowfall and feel the cold crystals fall on their tongues and faces. You know, kind of like how we native Michiganders are during the first snowfall before Christmas. However, by the time February gets here, we're grumbling about the harsh winter elements, cringing at the relentless dirty snow, and succumbing to cabin fever. Where's the sun and warmth we used to know?!

We become jealous of our family, friends, and associates who may be able to leave this blistering cold atmosphere, even temporarily. We get Facebook notices from our "friends" telling us they've escaped to LA for awhile, and how warm and wonderful it is out there. They're wearing flip flops and t-shirts and they "truly" wish we were there. (Yeah, right) We forget that California endured endless brush fires this past year; they're always on the cusp of who knows what size earthquake and when; and that most areas of the U.S. have to endure something "harsh," in terms of weather or natural disasters. Have you ever stopped to think that God gives us moments to pray through our "hardships" and become closer to Him? Perhaps He continuously lets us know just how much we DO have...even in the cold.

Oprah Winfrey recently dedicated a show to military families who must endure without their spouses who are deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and countless other third-world countries in service to our country's freedom. First Lady, Michelle Obama, is passionate about this issue, opening our eyes to just how many of these mothers and fathers must raise their families as single parents  while their spouses are thousands of miles away in the most volatile countries of the world. We know tomorrow's not promised for any of us. But, the military, they're honored to put their lives on the line each day without complaint, and they pray to just come home safely when their deployment is over.

Oprah also introduced us to a family who's father was severely injured while in the war, returned home blind, with a severe brain injury, and now the family has a new normal. Thank God, the father is making his way back physically, and he has a very devoted wife and loving children, but their lives have changed drastically. On that show, Oprah and First Lady Michelle gave us ways we could help the families who are still here, and not seen because they're not whearing a uniform. It's surprisingly easy to find military families who live nearby, and could possibly use our help. We all can contribute. We all can do something.

In the Old Testament, God tells us to give a portion of our tithes to the widows and orphans. We can take that to also mean give a portion of what we have to military families, the poor, and others in need:
29 Give it to the Levites, who have no inheritance among you, as well as to the foreigners living among you, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, so they can eat and be satisfied. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all your work. [Deuteronomy 14:29 (New Living Translation)]

Wouldn't it be wonderful to take our minds off our winter woes and tithe our time to help others? We can ask them how we could pitch in to make their lives a little easier. We could say, hey, our church is available to you, how can we help? Do you need a babysitter? Would you like to get your hair or nails done? Do you need a ride to go shopping? Can we cook you dinner? Do you have enough winter clothes, warm coats, and boots? Would you like to join us in church? Would you like to worship with us?

Can we shovel your snow?

God bless!

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