Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Haiti--Contrasts Day 3 (evening) was another good day. Just hanging with the kids and loving on them. Each one is different and have their own way. Some will come up and sit on your lap or want to be picked up. And some shrink back like "Who are you strange person?"

The big kids have been great to teach us Creole. Then we had a discussion about me NOT being Haitian, although they still don't believe me. But that was interesting and funny and of course I tried to go into my Africans in the Diaspora lessons to explain the answer to their question of "If I'm not Haitian, then why is my skin the same color as theirs!" So Yvonne and I made up a song and dance about African ancestors and I'm sure at that point we both just became crazy Americans!

We also got to see several children from HAF dedicated today. That was cool. Always a reminder of why any of us who work with children in ministry do what we see them given back to the Lord, to see the adults commit to raise them to know the Lord, and ultimately to see those children one day give their lives to Christ.

Then we got to go to church and hear a service in Creole, then later we went to a church service on the beach with other missionaries. It was beautiful to sit in such an awesome location. Beverly, one of my roommates, told how watching the waves crash against the rocks reminded her that no matter what obstacles come our way or crash against us, we just need to stand on the Rock--God is our solid rock.

Then I met this brother and sister. I went to talk to the girl thinking she was Haitian and she spoke perfect English. She told me she was from about blowing my mind. She and her brother are both adopted. Their adopted parents bring them back to Haiti so they get to see their birth parents. The kids were great---Sophia and Jesse. We were talking and he said, "we have 4 parents." When I asked him how did they come to have 4 parents, they told me their story.

Then we came back and hung out with the kids some more...and oh wait....there was the football coach who shared at Church on the Beach. When he was in high school an old man gave him this advice and he shared it with us. "Whenever you face obstacles in your life....1) Pray about it 2) Do something about it and 3) Rest! Then the coach really did come out in him and he reminded us of what he tells his players. "Go hard! or Go Home!" OK! So I choose to Go Hard.

One of the funny things was at dinner that night. It was supposed to be a treat for us because it was going to be an American dinner. It was funny because before I came, I just kept thinking, what if they serve goat head stew or something like that. I can't eat that I thought, but I wouldn't want to offend anyone. OK....goat head stew? Don't know where I got that idea from.

Anyway, I had loved the Haitian dishes we'd had...rice with some kind of red Haitian sauce, chicken, and some kind of spicy coleslaw. Loved it! One day for breakfast was oatmeal and bananas. We also had fried plaintains, Haitian Kool-Aid (pineapple flavor). Breakfast this morning was great....eggs, bacon, and jelly toast. Teressa and I managed the bacon, some pork and some turkey bacon....We laughed about why call it bacon if it's not made of pork. So we cooked the turkey bacon in the pig grease!

So the only dish so far I haven't liked was the American meal, but dessert was carrot cake cupcakes and the buttered toast for dinner was the bomb. So I just went to the fridge, grabbed a piece of ham, and slapped it on the buttered toast. Voila!

Later, we broke out our electronics...I-Phones, mp3 players, even digital cameras...which the kids all loved. I even got a request for Justin Beiber. I was glad I had some to share. So tomorrow I'm supposed to bring it out again because the kids had to go to bed.

After that we had our sharing/devotions time with the team. One of my roommates shared a heartbreaking story. It broke her heart and when she told it, it broke mine too. We had chicken for lunch and there was a plate for the bones. I thought it was for Drake, the dog. But later, the kids lined up and they were eating and sucking on chicken bones. I did not pay it a second thought.

But this was the heartbreaking part that was shared. Who were we to eat the chicken, but the kids got the bones. WOW! Who indeed? I get the kids sucking on the kids do it....chicken, ribs, etc. But I think it was the thought that we sat there and feasted like kings and queens and they got the scraps. I did wonder if my reaction was a little bit of American self-righteousness! Like...."Well, I never....."

Now, let me say that the kids had already eaten dinner...and I'm pretty sure that they had the same thing because I had talked to one of the kids earlier about what we were having for dinner, but I think it was the contrast.

One of the staffers reminded us that it is good that our hearts hurt so that we don't forget. So that is my take away today coupled with the coach's advice. God does do a work in our lives, but it is not enought to hurt or feel we have the responsibility to do something about it. It may be something big or it may be something small, but God never gives us a revelation just for knowledge's sake. It is always a call to action. I am reminded of James 1:22 "But don’t just listen to God’s Word. You must do what it says."

So what are you going to do with what He has revealed to you?

I just love the expression on his face! Sadly, I realized as I was writing the caption that the little girl over his right shoulder is Junette. On August 11, less than 4 weeks after we met her, Junette died while playing at the beach. Life is short. Treasure each day.

Stephania was one of the kids who was dedicated at church. The abundance of baby powder reminded me of my own mother and grandmother who doused us generously with talcum powder in the summer too!

Teressa and I put the smack down on this bacon. It was a great breakfast. Thanks Sharon for putting it all together.

I got to hang with Sophia and Jesse at Church on the Beach.

What a beautiful location to have Church on the Beach.

Monday, October 1, 2012

How is God going to write you into this story?

I have learned reccently that I really do see food differently, to sort of borrow the line from Red Lobster's new campaign. I first became aware of it when chaperoning field trips with my children at school. I would watch in horror as they threw whole school-packed box lunches in the trash. Or I would see kids eat one thing out of the box, and all of the unopened, pre-packaged veggies, unopened bags of chips and cookies, fruit cups, and the like would be collected and thrown in the trash.

It bothered me so much that I figured something had to be done about it. I contacted the principal, then the superintendent's office, the my state and representative and state senator, and finally I even sent a message to the First Lady Michelle Obama. And everyone told me the same thing, there are rules that govern that, but it seemed to me that this was such a tremendous waste.

And now,  a recent visit to my daughter's class reminded me again of what we take for granted. The exercise was supposed to help each child try vegetables and fruits they may have never tasted. What resulted was bowls and bowls of salad---lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, carrots, and so on. Now the fruit went much better, but at clean up time, at least at one table, there were 7 full bowls of salad that were thrown away. Look at how much food was thrown away! And this was just at one table in an activity that included 50 students.

We live a lavish life in America, and it is so abundant that we truly take most of it for granted. According to a recent report, "forty percent of food in the United States is never eaten, amounting to $165 billion a year in waste." Read the Study

Seeing that news story has made me more conscious. When we go out to eat, I try to see if there is platter that we can order as a family because we can never individually eat the ginormous portions they bring to each of us. When I fix my kids plates at home, I try to be more consertave on the size of their servings so that we don't get to the end of they just can't eat it all.

And when I saw all of that food that the kids picked over being thrown away, I thought of Mark Stuart, whom I had met again for the second time a few days before. Mark is someone who's life intersected mine and changed the narrative. I recently attended a worship service where Mark and others shared miraculous stories of survival and God's intervention in the lives of children in Haiti. And a quote that Mark shared stayed with me, "God has an amazing narrative that is playing out in this country. The only question is how is God going to write you into this story."

God is doing amazing things every day. And people like Mark and those who serve alongside him through Hands and Feet really are the difference between life and death for many children in Haiti. And what are you giving your life? What is it that is greater than yourself that God is calling you to?

Mark challenged me when I met him the first time to come to Haiti and see what they do. I did. And I was amazed...and I was transformed. Because it did change the lens through which I see and experience the world.

My heart is for the kids of Haiti, but is is also for the kids I get to serve in Clark County and Fayette County, and Scott County...and wherever God leads here in Kentucky and elsewhere as well. No child should go hungry, while we casually throw food away. No child should want for love, or security, or basic needs. We can do better. What will you do?How is God going to write you into this story?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

September to Remember

I love September and this is why. It has a lot of personal milestones for me. And in particular this year marked many high points.

You see, on September 4, 1987....25 years ago this month, I accepted Christ as my personal Savior. That one decision changed the total trajectory of my life. Being a follower of Christ has impacted every aspect of my passion for my life's work, the wife and mother I have become, my view of the world. Every day I thank God that on that day in 1987, He spoke LIFE into me and truly changed my life for eternity.

Then on September 5, 1992...20 years ago this month, I married the love of my life. Sebastian is my very best friend. And the Scripture that was on the front of our wedding invitation is truer today than it ever was on the day we said our vows, "I have found the one my heart loves." We still laugh together, and sometimes even at each other. We share a deep, abiding faith in Christ which is the glue that holds our marriage together. And we hold dear our family and supporting each other to follow our heart's passion. I am grateful that God led this southern boy to choose me...I am truly blessed.

Finally, on this day, September 11, 1996....16 years ago today, I gave birth to my first child, our eldest son, Ellis. He is still a delight to me. I bit more of a challenge than on that day in 1992...when I didn't have a clue about what it meant to bring another life into this world, or the great responsiblity that came with shepherding that young life for so many years to come. He has given me some of my proudest moments and some of my deepest heartaches. But I am grateful that God has allowed me to see him grow up to this point. He is so smart and gifted and I truly believe he is destined for greatness. I am glad to get a glimpse of the young man he is becoming.

Yes, 11  years ago on this day, I sat glued to my TV as so many around the world watched the tragic unfolding of 9/11. And I also knew that soon I would have a 5 year old coming home who expected to celebrate, who had no understanding of terrorists, or senseless murders, of tragedy on a mass scale, eclipsed only by the heroism of that day and the coming together of our country in the days and months to follow. And so on that fateful day, we did buy pizza and balloons and picked-up the Star Wars cake to celebrate 5 years that were the blessing of our son Ellis.

And then this year, on September 1, 2012, my very best friend from college walked down the aisle for the very first time, finding the truth in God's Word...."He who finds a wife, finds a good thing!" Congrats to my friend Torrey and his bride Kortnee.

And in just a few weeks, on September 30, we will celebrate the birth of our twin boys who would have turned 14 this year. Two beautiful little boys that we only got to know for a little while, but look forward to seeing again in eternity. We love you Ethan and Elliott, and you will never be forgotten.

So September holds a special place in my heart. I do count myself truly blessed.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Haiti--Contrasts Day 3 (morning)

This is the day the Lord has made....can you believe I got up at 6:30 a.m. That's crazy for me, but I wanted to help Sharon cook breakfast. Still not early enough to see the sun rise. But looking up at the beautiful mountain view this morning, it's hard to believe that last night it was so dark that you could not distinguish the mountain from the sky.

I'm listening now to the children interacting--already up and dressed for church. I wish my kids would consider being up for church before 7 am completely dressed and still in a good mood! :) We commented how all the kids just help each other. The little ones being led by the big ones....helping in kitchen , or just making sure the little ones got a snack. I love it.

A couple of times I've already been asked was I Haitian. On the way in from the airport, a Haitian who accompanied Matt to pick us up said "I looked Haitian." What does that mean? When I was in Seoul, Korea, a young lady from Kenya came up to me in the subway and said I "looked Kenyan." I guess it means that we all just look like regular black folks until we open our mouths to speak.

As a matter of fact I remember standing in line at customs looking at the posters in the Port au Prince airport and what did I think....yep, you guessed it, "they look American!" : ) It was that recognition that we are related in some way.

Then one of the kids on our van ride to the beach asked me, "Why I was this color." I said because "I'm like you." There is a cultural part of this experience that is different. The first day we were given an orientation we were told that we would be staying in the Big House. Boy...talking about a black girl from the south having a flashback moment.

Then when we went on our mountain hike it was very clear to me how Toussaint L'Overture was able to use the terrain against the French. Then yesterday on the beach, I met a Cuban doctor who only spoke Spanish. And of course, I knew basically only English....but remembered enough Spanish to carry on a basic conversation. I don't know whether it would have made my high school Spanish teacher proud or cringe! He had been in Haiti for 2 years. The work had not been easy and he did not have his family with him. I didn't know the word for "missions" but could say "church" and "teach kids about Jesus."

From that encounter, I thought about Cuba and the Dominican and how their independence came out differently....maybe it was the Spanish....maybe it was the time period....but to think what a different place Haiti might be if the world had recognized its independence and treated it like a true to govern themselves.....the legacy of so many things from generations past that haunt their descendants today. Alas.....with that said, all of my historical ruminations, I am brought back to this beautiful day where we are all starting to feel the morning sun on our faces.

I am glad to be here. Two kids, Lougley and Stephania, just taught me the words to "God is so good." That is neat. But now the boys are starting to remember what I said all went out the window. This looks more like my house on any given morning....loud, rambunctious, playful boys. Love is. God is so good.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Haiti--Contrasts Day 2

Tina with Thaina...HAF 2012
Love the kids. They are so loving and unassuming. That to me was the highlight of the day, just sitting and rocking. But we also went to the beach and that was fun. I had a great time.

Then just watching did remind me a lot of the South---flea markets with everything you can think of and people making do with what they have, no matter how much or how little. It does remind me to just be grateful--so whether food, or running water, or just the fellowship of the saints.

I am glad that I came, just want to be open to the Lord, to hear His voice, to value what He values. I am still learning that lesson---it is not about me. So what is God up to? Why am I here? What does He want the take away to be?

One friend said to me when I decided to come alone-- "Some things God has are just for you, not your friends, just for you.

So I am expectantly waiting!
Richnaider at the beach. He was hamming it up for the camera.
A market we passed on the side of the road.
Ti-Paul (on the left) quickly jumps into this photo with Dorie.
POSTSCRIPT: We are very fortunate to be able to sponsor two kids that I met while in Jacmel. I hope you will consider sponsoring a child. The thing I love about Hands and Feet sponsorships is the Family Room which allows you to get regular updates about the kid you sponsor. HAF provides long-term, family-style care for each child. For just $30 a month you really can make a difference in the life of a child. Each child needs 10 sponsors.

I loved getting to interact with Ti-Paul. He reminded me a lot of my son Quentin....a bit mischievous, but very creative and energetic. Whether kicking the soccer ball or flying the kite, Ti-Paul is a good natured kid with a fun-loving spirit. Ti-Paul still has 6 sponsor slots to fill in his Family Room.

Sponsor Ti-Paul at

Monday, July 30, 2012

Haiti--Contrasts Day 1

We made it!!! We have arrived at the children's village in Jacmel. It's 9 p.m. and my day started out at 3 a.m. when I got up to pack my bag. Three flights (and you know how much I hate to fly) and a long 4-hour winding van trip through the mountains and we arrived with some sleeping and 2 beautiful little awake faces to greet us.

God was very faithful and calmed my heart on all the take offs and landings. All of the flights were actually uneventful. Looking forward to tomorrow to see what God has in store. Why did He send me to Haiti?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

When God shows off

I'm sitting here at the end of an awesome day on such a spiritual high. I love it when God just shows off. I prayed this morning just feeling very disconnected and pretty much spiritually spent. Having just come back from Haiti on Friday, Saturday wasn't much of a rest day, and Sunday was back in the saddle with pulling together Children's Worship, then Monday started with the 5 hour drive to Ridgecrest. I was at the point of just wanting to be in God's presence.

And then He did it! He just showed off and filled my cup to overflowing. Started this morning with a message from Genesis 4. I love when God takes a Scripture that I've read many times and speaks something absolutely new into my spirit. God reminded me that He values the condition of my heart more than the offering in my hand.

But then God took it to another level at the Woman 2 Woman session. It was clearly evident that God's Spirit was at work and that we were in His Holy Presence. Again, the subject was a familiar passage that started with the resurrection of Lazarus. But then, did you know that  the Bible says that many Jews believed in Jesus because of what He had done in the life of Lazarus to the point that the chief priests wanted to kill Lazarus? I was reminded that there are people who oppose us and seek our downfall because of the work that Christ is doing in our lives.

She gave us each a kernel of popcorn and had us think through how that kernel actually becomes popcorn. So just how does popcorn pop? "Only popcorn kernels can pop, and the secret is water. Each kernel contains a small amount of water stored in a circle of soft starch inside the hard outer casing. When heated, the moisture turns to steam, creating pressure within. As the pressure builds, the casing eventually gives way, and the kernel explodes and pops, allowing the water to escape as steam and turning the kernel inside out."

With just that illustration, God reminded me that we cannot be who we are fully called to be until we go through some pressure. God brings out what's on the inside and gives us a breakthrough so that who we truly are is revealed. Hallelujah! God deserves all the glory for any work He has accomplished in my life. And He was definitely moving in the lives of women in that room today. The emotion was thick and His attention to every experience was intimate and real.

Pastor Fred Luter, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention, concluded the evening with the admonition to have a renewed mind. Again, a Scripture that I have read many times, but it was a great reminder that God's Word should influence every decision that I make.

And somewhere in all of this day I was trying to help one of my son's consider the consequences of his own life's choices, and feeling quite inadequate as a parent this weekend. My youngest son encouraged my heart as he has unknowingly done many times. He is truly a young man after God's own heart. When I witness my 10-year-old he puts me to shame because he has a pure, unshakeable faith in God--that God is who He said He is, and God can do what He said He can. We were discussing a particular situation, and his simple response is "We should pray." He just believes God and his first option is always to go to the Lord. I am blessed to have such a child.

So just a few days ago I was in Haiti admiring the beauty of His creation as I staired at the mountaintops one morning. But even in that I had the sinking feeling that I had somehow missed what God was up to, that I hadn't accomplished what He sent me there to do. And then this morning I found myself staring out at more of God's beautiful creation this time in the mountains of my home state of North Carolina. And this is what God spoke to me. He has an appointed time and sometimes my expectations don't line up with His plan. He is still going to accomplish His will, but I need to be obedient. So my spiritual renewal didn't take place in Haiti, but instead on my own home soil. God is forever faithful.

And a friend encouraged me as well about my Haiti trip....she said....remember God's Word, some plant, some water, but it is always God that gives the increase.

So was a string of WOW! Moments. I love it when God shows off!

P.S. I will post photos and a day by day account of my Haiti trip starting this Friday.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Be strong and courageous

I leave on Friday for my missions trip to Haiti. I am excited about the opportunity and have been overwhelmed by God's provision and the generosity of those who have supported this dream.

I was blown away by Gardenside Baptist Church when their AWANA program undertook a campaign to buy books to give to kids in Haiti free of charge. These kids did chores, collected spare change, and whatever else came to their minds to meet their personal goal of how many books they wanted to donate. I attended their closing ceremony at which time they were going to present the check. I was expecting maybe $200 since the kids had been so enthusiastic when I came to talk to them about the project. I could not believe what I saw when they presented me a check for nearly $1800. That bought 250 books for our Haiti project, more than we had collected during the whole campaign. So we now have nearly 500 books to donate. To God be the Glory for great things He has done!
Then as I was sending out my support letters, I learned that I was short some of the funds and I was at the deadline for sending in everything. So I texted everyone in my phone that I thought might help out, and emailed family and friends that I hoped would support and with one text Pastor Gaines from Consolidated Baptist Church basically said, "We got you. It's taken care of." I was again floored by God's provision and was reminded of something Pastor Gaines always teaches, "Where God guides, He will provide." And as if God needed to show off a little bit more, the ladies sewing ministry provided 100 hand-sewn dresses for me to take to the girls in the Children's Village.

But even more astonishingly, even after having secured the funds for the trip, friends and family continued to send support enabling me to buy items from the ministry Wish List, underwear and socks for the kids, shoes, and hair accessories, personal hygiene items to bless the staff.
God was walking with me each step of the way and reminding me that He would take care of the details. But in the middle of all of that I began to think about flying....which I absolutely loath.....I began to think of what might happen in a country that is not always that stable, I began to think about all the ministry work that I needed to do and deadlines that are approaching to launch children's ministry initiatives at work, and what it takes to put together a leadership team, and the challenges of working with different personalities and recruiting volunteers, and all of that. And so I found myself this morning on my knees crying out to God all of my fears and apprehensions, and concerns.....And I just said to Him, "Lord I need a word from you."

And I opened my devotional for the day and began to read. And then I got to the Scripture and knew God had answered my prayer immediately. It read,"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous." God said to Joshua. "Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) And then as if to emphasis His point, after reading the devotional, I turned the page, and at the top it said, Jesus said, "Don't be afraid, just believe." (Mark 5:36)
So keep me in prayer....but I have my life verse now...."Be strong and courageous, I will be with you wherever you go." We truly do serve an AWESOME God, who never ceases to amaze, but is at the same time, personal and present. Thank you God!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Daddy help me!

I love it when God meets me right where I am and He speaks His truth to me, and He makes it all right.

I was having one of those kinds of days today, and I turned to a devotional that I keep in my office and this is what God spoke to me, "Look to Jesus. Focus on Him instead of on the circumstances. Fill your mind with God's Word. Concentrate your attention on His promises. Yes, faith means taht you face reality--and then make a conscious choice to believe and trust God."

Boy, did I need that today. Sometimes when God gives you a vision, you have to hold fast and stay the course. But when you begin to waver, don't act like you have it all together. Run to Him! Cry out to Him. "Lord I cannot do this without You!" And you know what the answer will be...."My child, I never asked you to."

God tells us in Acts 1:8, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere."

That is my heart's desire and God has given me a special burden to reach children with that message. I know that I serve a Savior who is truly my Redeemer. He transformed my life and gave me purpose.

So on my best day, I remember that nothing I accomplish is in my own strength and I have to give honor to God for what He is doing in and through my life. But on my worst day, I run to Him, crying, "Daddy help me." Even more, I feircely seek Him in order to draw reassurance from His presence that He is with me, that He still sees all and knows all. He confirms for me the vision and sends me out again to do His work.

I am grateful every day of my life that I have a personal relationship with God. I love Him!

So my WOW Moment today is....He is my refuge and strength, my ever-present help in troubled times. Therefore, I will not be afraid!"

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How my daughter met Duke Ellington

You may have missed it but yesterday was World Book Night. Who knew?!? I love books and getting to share them with my children. Recently, I had the chance to share a very special book with my daughter.

As I am prone to do when we stop by the library, I pick books to read to her that often times are of interest to me as well. And so it was when I checked out "Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite."

Now the cool thing was my 8-year-old daughter didn't know who Duke Ellington was. So not only did I get to read a really cool book to her, but I also got the chance to introduce my daughter to jazz. And on top of that I learned something about Duke Ellington that he didn't know before.....he wrote a jazz version of the Nutcracker Suite. Many people are familiar with this Christmas classic.

Thanks to social media, we went online and found a video with Duke Ellington himself directing his orchestra. It was a great experience not only to read the book, but to get to see and hear him, as well as hear the music that we were just reading about.

When we started the video, my daughter asked, "Mama what kind of music is this?" I told her it was jazz. She liked it. So now instead of watching the news every night, while the kids are cleaning the kitchen, we put on some classic jazz or even some smooth jazz, and I have found that they all like it.

And it is a great, peaceful way to bring the night to a close. So read with your kids, and open up unknown worlds to them. It is great feeling as a parent to introduce them to new things that may stay with them the rest of their lives. That is a WOW Moment!

So turn off that TV...and put on a little jazz....or just curl up around a good book....may I suggest one...."Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Abba Father

I almost pinch myself each day thinking of how blessed I am to get to do what I do each day. In my personal life, I get to serve a God who is faithful 100% of the time. And the added bonus is in my vocation I also get to serve Him by sharing His message of reconciliation.

The pinnacle of doing what I do is getting to be a part of leading a child to faith in Christ, helping them to make the most important decision they will ever make in their lives. And the icing on the cake is getting to see that child baptized into the faith, making a public profession of the personal commitment they have made in their hearts.

I had a chance to witness that not long ago, and I just about shouted out of my seat. Not only did I receive the blessing of seeing two children baptized, but the perfect picture of God was painted by the pastor who baptized them.

As I watched him hold these children, I could only imagine what he whispered into their ears as he calmed their fears and reassured them that everything would be okay.

When I am unsure of my place in the world, or fear seems to overtake me, God is there. He is my "Abba, Father." And He does the same thing. He holds me close to let me feel His presence. He whispers reassuring words that bring comfort to my racing heart. He calms me as He prepares to take me to a deeper relationship.

WOW! We serve a mighty God. I am so glad He allows me to abide under the shadow of His wings. May you know His peace and presence today.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Let grace abound

I love my drive to work because it takes me out of the city and into the less urban part of Kentucky. I have the most awesome view and I am grateful for the daily reminder that there is a God and He is wonderfully creative.

On my drive this morning I marveled at the rays of sun filtering through the clouds at just the right angle, and at any moment I was expecting to hear the Hallelujah Chorus. But instead, what I heard was God's still, soft voice prick my heart. You see, the other thing I love about my commute is it gives me quiet time to spend with God.

My heart was heavy as He reminded me that we should be about the ministry of reconciliation. Time is short and we don't have time to waste on things that happened in the past, building up our own agendas or kingdoms, or nursing old wounds. God is calling us to heal. He is calling us to forgive. The only important thing that we do in ministry is to make Christ known.

Second Corinthians 5: 17-21 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."

How can we win anyone to Christ, when we cannot serve in unity within the very group of people that we profess are our family--brothers and sisters in the faith!?

My brothers and my sisters....God implores us that as we have been reconciled to Him, let us be reconciled to one another. I implore you to take one moment and think about your own life. If a Holy God can approach you for reconciliation, how much more should you be willing to give grace to someone else? Can we try that this week? Just to cover each extend an over abundance of grace. Not that they deserve it, but that is what grace is--something we don't deserve. But check this out....God did it first, He set the example. He gaves us grace. Something we don't deserve...that is what God lavishly pours out on us.

But this is the part in that verse that gets me..."as though God Himself were making His appeal through us." Is that a WOW! Moment or what? God wins people through us. They should see Him when they look at us. grace abound!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Faith of a Child

I LOVE my job! There are so many things running through my head right now, that I will try to contain in all without writing a novel. First, for those who have read my blog for a while, you know that in January 2011, I wrote a blog about a job that I really wanted, but didn't get. I was devastated. Here is the thing about the job, it was a writing position that I really would have loved, but my heart was still in children's ministry and I couldn't see anything on the horizon that God was doing there.

And now, fast forward a year and see what God has done. I'm a children's ministry director. I live and breath this stuff. It is my heart's passion. And yes, I have had to confess my lack of faith to God, and thank Him for always giving me His best even when I nag Him to give me what I want, right now!

So I encourage you with the words that God has spoken to me throughout these 12 months. Trust Him. He is a good Father. He always seeks our good and does what is best for us, even when it may not be the easiest thing for us to deal with.

So every day I walk into work with a Kool-Aid smile, extremely grateful that God allows me to minister to children every day. And here is the super-whipped, double-chocolate frosting with extra sprinkles on top this week....after just 3 weeks on the job, I had the privilege of leading a child to Christ at First Baptist Church. Later yesterday, I had the great privilege of leading my own daughter to Christ as well. And that all capped off a service where at church a six-year old shared how God gave him a story in the wind. "The Lord is telling me not to forget Him." To see Mekai share his story and his song, CLICK HERE. [By the way, this is how I started my day...see the entire sermon CLICK HERE.]

I was struck the whole day by this basic fact--the Gospel message is simple. "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

Let's be about our Father's business. Take every opportunity to share the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results to God. AMEN!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When a broken heart brings you joy

I will be starting on Monday as the children's ministry director at First Baptist Winchester. I'm so excited for the opporutunity to personally disciple children on a regular basis. There is a real reason why Jesus tells us "unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven." Matthew 18:3 Children can exemplify the gospel message in such a profound way. Ministering to them challenges me to live a life that pleases God daily. As adults we can learn a lot from the example of the children around us.

I was watching my youngest son one day and he was the perfect example of a contrite heart. Psalm 51:17 tells us, “The greatest sacrifice you want is a broken (contrite) spirit. God, you will gladly accept a heart that is broken (contrite) because of sadness over sin.” This is what I observed.

Our son had not been doing very well in school and we were discussing with him some of his behavior. I could see it on his face before he even said a word.

First, he agreed with us that the things he had been doing were wrong. He understood that those things were not what we expected of him, nor was he bringing honor to God or himself by his actions. For adults that means calling sin sin. Sometimes we try to dress it up to take the sting out. We use euphemisms and compare our actions to choices others have made. We have to learn to agree with God's definition of sin.

Second, I could see the tears forming in his eyes as he thought about the things he had done that day. He was truly sad because of his sin. He was not just trying to get out of punishment. And he readily agreed that he should be punished, but he took responsibility for what he had done, and he put into his own words what things he would try to work on.

This is not the first time I have my son visibly moved by something he has done and he knows in his heart that it is wrong. Our sin already grieves the heart of God. If we think of the abundance of grace He has freely lavished upon us, it should grieve our hearts too.

But here's the good news. God gladly receives us when we are sad because of our sin. He is looking for those who will be broken-hearted by their sin and will come to Him for grace to face another day. When we can own up to what we have done, that is the first step to show God that we are sorry and we want another chance to do better. Then the challenge is trusting Him to empower us to do better. Contrary to popular belief, we do not have it within us to be better, it is God in us that makes that possible.

I love His name....Immanuel...God with us. When you have a contrite heart, God will turn your sorrow into joy. May you know that joy this week.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hope that does not disappoint

I ended 2011 with a lot of questions to God about the state of my life. Had I really heard His voice when I made certain decisions? What was He trying to teach me in the time that He was clearly telling me to wait?

I was frustrated with God's timing and felt far away from His presence. There were so many areas of my life that were filled with uncertainty and I wasn't sure what God was up to.

Then one day as I was crying out to the Lord, many times literally as well as figuratively, I looked up as I was driving my kids to school and I saw a rainbow....a sign of promise.

I cannot tell you how quickly God's peace came over me. And I was reminded of when we first came to Lexington to visit, to determine if we were going to move our family yet again. On our first morning here, there was a rainbow in the sky. I smiled then taking the promise that Lexington would be a blessing to us. And it has been in many ways.

So as 2012 began, some doors that had seemingly been nailed shut last year began to open slowly and God provided HOPE. This week I have thought a lot about hope and why without it we can become discouraged and begin to despair.

Romans 5:3-6 says, "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love." WOW!

Well, let me tell you, I wasn't doing a lot of rejoicing as the year came to an end. But when I started to think about HOPE, I could more clearly see why God told us not worry. We worry because we have no hope. We worry because we lack the faith that God can handle whatever situation we face. We worry because we can't control the outcome of our circumstances.

Throughout this time God had also been pressing on me the need to trust His work in my life. And I found myself repeatedly praying, "Lord help me to overcome my unbelief." I think many Christians would not like to admit that they too sometimes fall into that category of not totally trusting God. We say it with our mouths, but it is not evident in our actions.

So I am excited about 2012! I'm trusting in God because it truly is a hope that does not disappoint.

[PHOTO]-I was so awed that I ran in the house and grabbed my camera. This is the rainbow I saw that day over our house.