Thursday, August 18, 2016

Listening to God

Post by: Heidi Schwandt

I have a friend and neighbor who has a gift. He has always had very vivid dreams about things to come. Many of these dreams were about things he has been praying over for days, weeks, months. His wife encouraged him to start writing these dreams down years ago.

Over the last 4 years the company he works at has been laying people off. Praying that God would help them make it through yet another round they nervously escaped the cut time after time. This last year my friend had a dream and kept seeing the number 60. Not sure what this meant he wrote down the dream and kept on praying and waiting. This year was his 60th birthday and he was laid off.

His wife is crazy jealous of these dreams. She always says she would just LOVE to be able to hear from the Lord in such a manner! ME TOO! I think most of us would love to just dream an answer to a prayer or hear the Lord's voice like a resounding gong in our heads and hearts. God spoke to people in the bible all the time. I don’t think He just stopped…maybe we lost the ability to hear Him.

Today it seems we are often too busy. We are so focused on the day ahead of us, what happened yesterday, what we are going to do tomorrow I believe it is becoming harder and harder for us to hear God when he speaks to us. So do I think we need to stop, meditate, listen, pray be still for hours every week- well sure if you can! But I have 2 kids under the age of 4 so that’s not happening in my household…unless I stop sleeping.

I think that listening for God can be as simply as living our lives with more intentionality and awareness each day. We can start by praying each morning that He pings our self-consciousness when we need to listen and work towards being aware enough to notice. We are going to need God’s help in this. In fact, I have learned we need God’s help in most all areas of self-improvement.

In Psalm 143 David Prays, “I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, O Lord: my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of our unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go for to you I lift of my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will for you are my God’ may your good Spirit lead me on level ground”

Last week I had a babysitter for a few short hours while I ran to the Doctor and squeezed in a few errands. I had to make a return at JAX and was running out of time. I parked, hoped out of the car and bee-lined for the door. For a brief moment I noticed an older man park a bike with a large basket in front of the store. He wasn’t dressed in dirty old rags or anything, but as I walked up I noticed he was heading for the garbage bin outside of the store. He had just seen a woman throw away a plate of half eaten food and was rummaging through the bin. When I approach he quickly turned away from what he was doing.

In that moment I was so focused on getting my returns done, I noticed all this but I didn’t SEE what was happening... Plus if he was hungry I didn’t have anything for him anyways, no cash or food. So, I raced past him into the store and made my return. While waiting for the cashier in the store it really dawned on me what he was doing. I suddenly SAW more than just an old man with his bike, looking through the garbage. I SAW a person, who was hungry, ashamed, in need.

Then as I went to collect my receipt I noticed two granola bars and an apple in my purse. REALLY?! Sorry Lord, I just wasn’t paying enough attention. It wasn’t a BIG moment, God wasn’t telling me that the world was going to end or something terrible would happen to one of my children, but he was giving me the opportunity to listen to Him and serve one of His own. And I missed it. And sometimes I think the little moments can make a BIG difference if only we are listening enough to notice them. If only we took the time each morning to ask God, like David did, to show us the way, to speak to us, to lead us.

By the time I got back outside the gentleman was gone. I quickly hoped in the car and drove around the surrounding area for a few minutes hoping I could find him but I could not. This happened 2 weeks ago and the incident has crossed my mind many times since then.

I think God often speaks to use by giving us these opportunities to love one another. To help a complete stranger, to act with Grace and kindness when it is least expected. Maybe you have a granola bar to give, maybe it’s $5 bucks, maybe its your time, your prayers. Whatever it may be the first step is to stop and pray. Pray that God gives you the awareness to HEAR Him, however quiet the whisper, and the courage to act. That nagging voice in the back of your head isn’t just your mother reminding you to do or be something…Sometimes it’s your Father (the heavenly one).

I am a Chicago girl living in Colorado for 8 years now. I have been married to Ed for 12 years and have two beautiful children Vivian & Natalie. After spending several years working for the American Red Cross while living overseas in Germany I moved to Colorado and worked in the financial industry for 7 years. Now I have the privilege of being a stay at home mom and wife. I am mostly a homebody but will get out of the house for time on a lake or river (basically any body of water), dinner with friends or fishing! Most of my personal time is spent with my husband and kids or working on yet another one of my home improvement projects, I am a DIY junkie and have done everything from drywall to electrical and carpentry, not to mention hours of painting. I have been a member of BUMC for about 2 years and a follower of Christ for as long as I can remember. It’s been a blessed life thus far and I’m excited to see what else God has in store for me.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Power of Begging (For Forgiveness)

Like many of my blog posts, this one is, yet again, about how I use church in my daily life, particularly at work. In my high school class, I frequently find myself utilizing the knowledge in sermons, speeches, and stories when I’m in my class. This one comes from a particular interaction with a student who is one of those covert difficult students. This means that he’s not the one throwing paper across the room, or getting physical, or shouting inappropriate language. Instead, this student chose his style of difficulty by giving written feedback at the bottom of assignments such as, “I felt like this was a complete waste of my time,” or by taking the unpopular opinion during debates in the class, just so he can “do battle” with other kids, even if he doesn’t even believe what he’s saying. I’m sure we’ve all met people like him at some point.

Well, a while ago, Thomas gave a wonderful sermon about not judging others, and going out of your way to care for people who you find hard to care for. The week after this sermon, I was giving an end-of-the week test to my kids. It’s a simple test where I allow them to use their journal to answer simple and silly questions, just to make sure they’ve been keeping up in class with their notes. One question comes up at the end, where the kids are required to say, “My favorite part of this class is…” and finish that sentence. Since I have smaller classes, and all the kids know each other, I asked them to say it aloud from their seat. You can probably guess how my challenging student handled this test. He ended up walking up to me, saying, “My favorite part of this class is how bureaucratic and irritating this test is.” He followed up by dramatically throwing his paper in the air, and trudging back to his seat. I’ll admit, I felt “that” anger, you know, the one where you feel your face getting warmer, and that strange feeling in your belly, like you’re ready to burst. I got up, walked over to his chair, and calmly pointed him to the door, and told him to get out of my classroom, which I had never said in his class to anyone before. Because this is a student who is usually a covert difficulty, he isn’t actually used to that kind of response.

I walked back towards my chair, but on the way, I could hear the Lord speaking in my ear. I knew exactly what He would say. “Elliott, if you hadn’t made that boy stand up in front of everyone and talk, he never would have said that.” I obviously knew that He was right, so I stopped where I was, turned around, and walked back to his desk. I got down on his level, and talked very quietly. I told the top of his head that I really didn’t like how we handled that interaction, and that I wasn’t comfortable with how it ended up. To my surprise, he looked up with eyes full of tears. I stopped talking due to my shock, as I had never seen this student show emotion before. He spoke very sheepishly and said, “I didn’t like how I handled that either, and I’m so upset with myself.” I only had one thing to say to that, because his response instantly softened my heart. I said, “Will you please accept my apology?” This, I think, is such a big thing for so many people. We throw around the word “sorry” so often, that sometimes, we don’t even think of how miniscule the things we apologize for actually are, like brushing past someone in the supermarket.

For my particular chosen student, the key to get past my difficulty with him was these simple words. They didn’t cost anything, and they didn’t degrade my character (if anything, they added to it). There is so much power in replacing your phrase “I’m sorry” with “Will you accept my apology?” especially when interacting with kids. We can never forget that even when working with the kids in our lives, no matter how difficult they can be, we always need to approach these kinds of situations with humility, and keep their feelings in mind. When they hear adults apologize to them, it teaches them a very powerful lesson, and supports their bond and trust with their parents. Please always keep your best feelings in your hearts, and a generous, loving God in your head at all times.

Elliott has been attending BUMC since 2012 with his wife, Kyla. Since attending, he has worked with technology for services, as well as camera work on Easter and Christmas, while Kyla sings. He is a high school Gifted and Talented teacher at Wheat Ridge High School, and is in his 6th year of teaching. He lives in Arvada with his wife and two dogs.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Positivity and Prayer

I am not a patient person. I really don’t like waiting; for anything. Long lines of people give me angst; interminable traffic lights make me crazy, creeping minutes in a doctor’s office drives me batty. You get the idea. Waiting is hard. That little quirk of mine has made this a somewhat difficult summer for me.

There have been various areas of my life these past weeks, where I really, really wanted, nay, needed an answer. Preferably now or even yesterday would serve my sense of sensibility. It has been super frustrating to have to sit back and let events that I have no control over unfold. I would really like to see everything just fall into place. Like, now. God has a different idea for me, however. I guess He thinks that I need to learn a little lesson in patience.

Every day I have woken up thinking, “This is the day! Today I’ll get the answer that I’ve been seeking!” Then, at the end of the day, when I don’t have my answer, I really have to fight the urge to rail, rant and bluster about the injustice of it all. It would just be so much easier if I could control the actions of other’s to suit my need for an answer. I’ve blogged about this subject before, how I have trouble dealing with things that are out of my control. I’ve been working on it, I really have, but it’s not always an easy thing. says that the synonyms for patience are restraint, perseverance, imperturbability, and submission. It’s that last word, submission, which I think God wants me to learn. He keeps throwing up these roadblocks in my life because I have yet to truly, totally, and completely, submit to His PLAN; whatever those plans may be. Trusting in His plan means to surrender control of my plans.

I’ve been trying a new mantra. I chant to myself, in my head, “positivity and prayer, positivity and prayer”. I know in my heart of hearts that it’s right and that everything will fall into place in time. And of course, it did. When I least expected it, God did what He always does. He answered my prayer. He put the final puzzle piece into place and He showed me, once again, that submission to His will and grace will always have an amazing ending.

The Bible says, “The Lord will fight for you; you only need to be still. Exodus 14:14. I’m working on that “being still” part. I really am.

Sara Godwin has been a member of BUMC since 2003. She is the Assistant Director and Teacher at Apple Tree Christian Preschool and Kindergarten where she has worked since 2007. She has two wonderful children, Rachel and Ian, a loving husband, Shawn, two awesome kitties, Lewis and Lucy, and a sweet dog, Minnie. She began at BUMC working in the Children’s Ministry, assisting with Sunday School before moving to the preschool. She also helps with Wacky Wednesday and is the self-described crazy lady who wears all sorts of costumes every year at VBS.