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!