Samaritan’s Feet….Changing lives one pair of shoes at a time!

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Making friends......one pair of shoes at a time!

Samaritan’s Feet volunteers & staff, Gaston County Commissioner, Tracy Philbeck and I washing feet and giving a new pair of shoes at Rhyne Elementary in Gastonia, Making Friends, one pair of shoes at a time!

Jesus said, “If you’ve had a bath in the morning, you only need your feet washed now and you’re clean from head to toe. My concern,  you understand, is holiness,  not hygiene.” John 13:10

Spending time at the feet of others was the example Jesus set for us to follow as He bowed in subjection to the disciples for the purpose of washing their feet as an act of honor and service. Nothing can be greater, than knowing that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, humbled Himself to the position of servant. As we put ourselves in the position of service, we look up into the eyes of the ones that we have come to serve and say. “You are the most important person at this very moment. I want you to know that you are loved by God and by all of us. We are here today simply because of our heart to love and serve you just as Jesus did.”

Today, I was once again blessed to participate in a shoe distribution with Samaritan’s Feet. The mission and heartbeat of founder, Manny Ohonme, is 10 million pairs of shoes on the feet of 10 million children in the next 10 years You can read more about Manny’s story of how a simple pair of shoes changed his life and led him to follow what was exampled to him by the love of  one who came to serve him.

http://www.samaritansfeet.org/who-is-sf/mannys-story/

I have had the privilege of serving alongside Manny Ohonme and his wife, Tracie since 2005 and have nothing but the utmost love and respect for this man and his family who daily live out what they believe. While we do not often share the same schedule, we are often in contact and communication. Today, however, Monty and I were blessed with a most special opportunity; to give back to children, teacher’s and staff at an elementary school near our hometown of Dallas, NC. We rallied and gathered our friends to help us support the effort of Samaritan’s Feet in our Jerusalem. Gastonia, NC

On this day, 400 plus children, teachers, and staff would receive our undivided attention as we spent time getting to know them, focusing our hearts and attentions towards them, washing their feet and providing a new pair of socks and shoes for each one of them. The event was a surprise for the entire school and spear-headed by their caring principal, Rebecca Huffstetler.

The day started as usual with the younger children filling our stations. So, precious. Timid. Embarrassed and confused by all these people taking off their old shoes, putting their little feet in cold water, washing them and putting new shoes on their feet. Refreshing, but in time the older children would fill the chairs and their disbelief was often verbalized.

My breath-taking and life-joy moment happened near the end of the day when a less than thrilled tough 5th grade boy sat down in front of me. What would become my favorite conversation of the day began with, “So, lady, how much are they paying you to wash my feet, be nice to me and give me this new pair of shoes?” And with attitude and no smile, I might add. He was not rude. Simple putting it all on the table and in all likelihood, wanting to call me out and say, yep, told you so, they don’t care about me.

“Nothing.” I replied. “God loves me (us), we love you and I came here today to tell you how very special you are to Him and to me. Nothing more. Nothing less.” A cynical 10-year-old smile ensued. Our moment together ended within five-eight minutes and toward the end a new-found, whimsical, wry smile appeared. I held his hands, looked him square in the eyes and ended by letting him know that every step that he takes in these new pair of shoes, that I will be thinking of him, praying for him and trusting his life to a God that wants to do great things in and through him. His name will be written in my prayer journal and I will believe God for His very best until heaven.”

I continued as the Holy Spirit kicked my heart into gear and shared the gospel message of hope, a future, and of surrendering his heart to receive the free gift of life now and eternal through Jesus Christ. The promise of forgiveness, new life and God’s perfect plan for his life. You see, we get moments like these on occasion and I felt the urgency to seize the moment while it was sill today! I continued. “God’s plan for you is perfect. Your story is still being written. When you want to give up or you struggle, think of the silly lady who said, you can do it through complete surrender of your heart to the Lord and the power of God which is greater than your mind can conceive.” God wants you to know that you matter and that He has a plan for your life!! An, sweet friend, I pray for you, I will claim each step for the rest of your days for  God to do “exceedingly, abundantly in your life above all that you can ask or think.” HE IS ABLE!!!

He sheepishly, smiled. I said there is just one more thing. “Can I get a hug?” I have yet in my life until today, felt a more genuine embrace than from his big ole size 10 men’s shoe bear hug that I received from Gods most precious possession.
You see, God spoke directly to his heart today. The Holy Spirit penetrated the deepest part of this young mans soul and there is no doubt in my mind that the God of the universe will make good on a prayer prayed forward for a life in the balance between the god of this world and our heavenly Father’s will for his life.

So, when you wonder if God still uses the smallest of opportunities for His good and His glory, remember the hardened heart of my friend today. And when you pray, you need not know his name but that his heavenly Father is well acquainted with the matters of his precious heart and life. Next time you think, I should do something to help….just do it. Don’t wait. The true blessing will be yours. And when you wonder, does God really still open hearts in the least imaginable ways….like through a pair of shoes, a smile, a hug, a word of affirmation, a touch or a smile? May you see my face smiling back at you and saying….Oh yes He does!! Remember, Jesus said it best….”My concern is holiness…” May we walk simply on this path of righteous living….and trust God for life-changing results! For His glory! Amen and Amen!

Caring for God’s beloved!

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Looking For Lovely

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As a musician and singer, this excerpt from “Looking For Lovely” by Annie F. Downs rings so near to how my heart beats not only for corporate worship but my private interaction with the Lord as worship throughout my day.

While I rarely get to sing and lead worship these days, savoring alone times with the Lord Jesus fuels my spirit. It is there my soul finds encouragement, rest and refreshing.

As author Annie F. Downs, Looking For Lovely writes,

“Based on what’s going on with my day, or in my heart, I take their melody and some of their words and add my own. Because sometimes I like to worship God through a song that’s my own and sometimes getting through a hard day or a hard moment is only possible when I bring my own lovely truth into it.”

Learning to purpose to find the lovely in every single moment of every good, hard or indifferent day has been transforming. A simple practice that implements a small shift- fixing my eyes and fixing thoughts on Jesus in the midst of Him writing my story- for His glory!

~allowing the melody of that day to become my song

Yes!

Just wondering how your day might be going? Can you step back and easily acknowledge your truth and melody?

My soul has learned to sing with breathing melodies. It is not always pretty but it is authentic and honoring to God.

Sweet communion with Him always cares for me so perfectly!

What’s YOUR story of finding the lovely today?

I’d really love to hear! ❤️ Mel

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8

 

Looking For Lovely

Remembrance and Maundy Thursday 

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Remembrance and Maundy Thursday 

Maundy Thursday we remember the last supper. As evening rests on the setting of the sun this day, I am mindful of grace. A ready and underserved favor that cost Jesus everything. 

Among those He loved so faithfully, even facing the cross, He so unselfishly cared for every heart reclined at that table.

Humility- as recorded in John’s gospel, on His last night before His betrayal and arrest, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and then gave them a new commandment to love one another as He had loved them (John 13:34) 


For our Lord and Savior to take up the position of servant overwhelms me and in heart I truly long to never let him down. 

Yet in brokenness, I am that sinner. This small life born broken cannot comprehend HIS body broken for me. HIS blood shed for me. The precious lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world for me. 


1 Corinthians 11 has played over and over in my heart today with verses 23-26 taking me into that very room with His beloved. I find myself with a hovering view peering into the sacred place where grace will be known so very real.

As I imagine the depths from which Paul writes, my heart bows low and although this sinners heart has been brought back into a right relationship with God, my it aches as I remember afresh my faith walk and wish there had been another way. 

“Let me go over with you again exactly what goes on in the Lord’s Supper and why it is so centrally important. I received my instructions from the Master himself and passed them on to you. The Master, Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, took bread. Having given thanks, he broke it and said,

This is my body, broken for you. Do this to remember me. After supper, he did the same thing with the cup: This cup is my blood, my new covenant with you. Each time you drink this cup, remember me. What you must solemnly realize is that every time you eat this bread and every time you drink this cup, you reenact in your words and actions the death of the Master. You will be drawn back to this meal again and again until the Master returns. You must never let familiarity breed contempt.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Familiarity. This day set aside for a focused remembrance casts a shadow on ever becoming so familiar with what lie ahead for Jesus.

Paul continues and leaves no doubt in our hearts that we……


Maundy Thursday was a night most pressing on the heart of God that we NEVER forget what Jesus has done for us.

In closing, Paul continues in 1 Corinthians full well knowing the divisions among the people and without holding back he writes.

“Anyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Master irreverently is like part of the crowd that jeered and spit on him at his death. Is that the kind of “remembrance” you want to be part of? Examine your motives, test your heart, come to this meal in holy awe.”
                             Holy Awe

It is quiet now on this beautiful spring evening. Life is alive all around me from my porch swing view. Bird’s singing. Flowers are popping up from the winter’s ground and somehow the leaves on the tree unfurled almost overnight. The fragrance of spring onions, hyacinths and tulips fill my head with spring joy and the promise of all things new.

So as with God, Easter is coming. 
The cross. The horrible death between two thieves. The burial. The resurrection. Rejoicing.

Jesus will not stay in the grave but will rise and bring hope and beauty to a broken people. 

We remember this Maundy Thursday and we hold on to the promise of the resurrection and to our God and King who never gave up on His beloved creation. 


At this day’s end…..

I give thanks for the sacred pause of remembering today. Thank you Jesus for making all things well with my soul.

God’s Comfort, Strengh and Healing Through Pain and Loss

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God’s Comfort, Strengh and Healing Through Pain and Loss

I remember the phone call just like it was yesterday. I was joyfully pregnant with our second child and busy with our about to be two year-old daughter. These were busy, tiring and beautiful days.

It was just after midnight. The phone rang and after the hello, my parent’s neighbor Sam asked immediately to speak with my husband Monty. It struck me as odd but I handed the phone to him. As I watched Monty’s face, I knew in my spirit that my daddy was gone. 

Monty held me and whispered the most painful news that I had ever known. The wave of emotion took my breath. I fell to my knees and was just sure that my heart would stop beating. Nooooooo……. I willed myself to breathe.

The details were cut and dry. Simple. He went to sleep and never woke up. Later his autopsy would tell that the artery on the backside of his heart exploded. The widow-maker artery. There was nothing that could have been done even if there had been a doctor right beside of him. 

There was no consolation in that. It was just simply the facts surrounding his early and unexpected death. My father Morrison was forty-two years old. My life then and even now still knows and aches with the pain of losing him. 


I had no idea that this journey toward healing would lead me to run straight into the arms of my Heavenly Father. In brokenness and grief, I learned more about faith, trusting and resting in the comfort that can only come from God. In the days ahead, all that I knew how to do was to hold on tight and be held by the power that was greater than it all.

I learned soon that the process of grieving would not happen overnight. It would happen in phases. Everything that I had learned about God to date immediately came into question. My not so welcomed journey toward healing and peace was paved with hard places, tears and grace. For the first time in my life I learned what it meant to be held by God and to be surrounded by His faithfulness.

I am not sure what pain your heart may carry today. But the following are some of the words that carried this small heart, brought me back to life and helped me learn to breathe again. 

Jesus knows the pain we are going through and He cares.


In 1985, encouraged me to dive even deeper into God’s Word. The truth is, I did so out of obedience. Nothing made sense but I longed and needed to know Him more. The washing of the water of the Word was my rescuer’s beginning work of transformation not just an sure and steadfast God but my Heavenly  Father and loving God!

During the blur of dark days, there was no greater comfort than that of the Lord. To be held in His arms of love led me safely and renewed my hope.


Our strength comes from the Lord and the Lord alone. There were some days filled with unreasonable fear and the discouragement was a heavy weight that my body became accustomed to carrying. Yet there were days where the light I glimpsed in the distance lifted my gaze. For tomorrow’s bright hope, I fought hard to remain fully there. When I face hard things and feel God’s palpable hold, I am taken back to where my spirit’s strength was forged in fire.


Healing starts where pain, grieving and loss begin. In the deafening silence, there are whispers. God is faithful to draw our lives in the midst of real-life, to honest, yet peaceable places until the promised reuniting with those we have loved so well and miss so very much. 

I can honestly say that the healing came only in complete surrender. 

For every day that was lost to just making it though the necessary moments, God would restore and in the midst of that transforming power I learned to receive grace. 

In learning to receive grace, I can now give grace more freely because it is the pure and true grace of God that I have known so deep in my heart and soul.

The real truth is, I no longer need to understand, explain it nor feel robbed. I can rejoice in the Lord’s redeeming work in my life. Today I was compelled to share because so many people that I know and love are broken, hurting, grieving, suffering, longing, waiting and feeling isolated and alone.

These things I know at this day’s end, that no matter our pain, our Lord Jesus is enough. I am also very well aware that someone telling you HOW you should feel or respond does no good and just alienates you even more from the pathway to healing. In this world we WILL know pain and suffering. 

So what is the answer when you wonder if you will ever feel again? Laugh again? Believe again? Breathe again?

Find another heart who will listen. Reach out to me because the pain is real and I want to hold your hand, walk alongside of you and find you the support that your heart needs. More than anything it is imperative for you to know that your feelings are fair, platitudes just make you mad and the God who loves and created you is the strength behind the very air when you feel you cannot breathe.

And the suffering for “a little while” (OK so that “little while” ‘may fully feel like forever right now)….. and that is ok!

The grief. The pain. The heartache. The loss. The fear. The doubt. 

Not one of those emotions will ever go away nor should we wish that they would but instead their reseidence in our spirits will continue to mold, direct and shape us until we see Jesus face to face. For today and for compassions sake, we are attentive and wait to move until we feel that tug from the Holy Spirit to step toward another life and speak words of hope as one who knows, understands and God has woven His best through their very own valley of the shadow of death.

God promises.

God does.

God will. 

Restore. Support. Strengthen. Place you on a firm foundation.

Defining moments change us from the inside out and in His sovereignty God wants the very best for His beloved. We trust God, faithfully surrender and release every transforming moment back to the Lord as our gift. 

Through it all, He remains constant with gracious direction that sings over us as we become the beautiful grace-givers that He has perfectly guided and shaped for the love and care of others.

David knew this very well. We camp here and raise our hands and voices in worship. 

Goodness. Unfailing Love. Forever.

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. 

He guides me along right paths bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. 

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”

Everyday Moments of Grace and Compassion 

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There have been notable moments in my life where the Holy Spirit has prepared my heart with an overwhelming presence of grace and compassion. To date, I have known great joy in keeping my heart open to God’s work in the midst of life’s ordinary moments. 

This past Thursday was just that kind of regular, ordinary get it done day!
Last stop of the day and the shopping was done and done! Truthfully, there had been no real notion that this would be one of those interesting distraction kind of days where the Lord facilitates an opportunity to live out God’s love, grace and compassion in a very real way.
While loading the car after an arduous “Back To MRO” grocery and supply run, I saw a gentleman from the corner of my eye park his bicycle by where the grocery cart return was located. While within close proximity of my car, the Holy Spirit quickened in me a heart to be wise, don’t worry he is safe, watch and listen day.
Within a moment, our eyes made contact, he introduced himself as Will and I knew in an instant that He seemed to respect my caution but yet welcoming posture. 
He took a guarded first step toward me and raised his hand to show me that he wanted a peaceful conversation. He spoke, “My name is Will. It costs $10 to stay at the Salvation Army Shelter tonight and I only have $6.00. I have not been drinking,

I just want a warm bed and something to eat. 
He began to share His story and it was much like I would assume. A broken life, family, tragedy and the loss of his job due to an extended hospital stay after he was hit by a large truck while riding on his bicycle. Scars on his arm told the story. He stood for ten minutes and shared every little detail of his hope in the Lord.

My heart was overwhelmed with compassion. I never give money to people but the Holy Spirit quickened me to help insure that he would have a warm place to sleep and food to eat that night. Just one small act of love and compassion might be the catalyst for change in his life. And that I will forever pray over Will’s life.
Tonight I rest well knowing that Will is going to find God’s perfect plan for his life. He asked me to keep him in my prayers as he has a job interview this coming Monday… Would you join me in praying for him? For God to make a clear and good path? To provide for everything that he needs. Permanent shelter, a job, food, companions in His life and that he would draw even closer to the Lord.
I grabbed a quick selfie with Will just after we prayed together right there in the middle of the chaotic WalMart parking lot. I wanted you to see his face, consider his kind way and intercede on His behalf. 


Wherever you are tonight Will, you are loved and the Lord God is with you! 
For my new friend Will:
“God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right….” Isaiah 30:18

Wouldn’t It Be Cool If God….

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Wouldn’t it be cool if God……. 


“And here’s my deepest prayer: that you would love God and love the people around you. That you would let His Word be your strength and peace. That you would let the Living God fill your well and let it spill over into the people around you.” If: Gathering

Reflection: Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear

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“With Jesus, preemptive declarations of grace and love and no-condemnation establish the environment for conversations about truth, morality, and ethics. It can be no other way.” 
Author Scott Saul Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear

I love a quiet afternoon with Ann VosKamp and her front porch guests. 
Today’s post by Pastor Saul stopped me in my tracks for a bit of soul-searching of my own. 
Ann VosKamp is wise. How do I know? She has learned to sit at the feet of those who know the transforming love and grace of God so very well that they are compelled to proclaim the good and glory of God. 
Shoutin’ glory as it relates to their very own honest view of the not so pretty, imperfect, real and messy business of life. You know the life that faces the world head-on in pursuit of the real meaning to it all? 
The truth of it is that some of us find the real Jesus for life sooner rather than later and that is a blessing. For others, it takes years of pain, heartache and struggle until they know the surrender of the arms of an all loving God.
The following excerpt toward the end of the powerfully convicting post by Pastor Scott Saul caused me to consider how many times I may have inadvertently offered my judgement in word and action far more quickly than love and grace. 
Grace, a ready favor. Love so undeserved. The free gift of eternal life. I know more now why my grandmother spent her days living, breathing and singing sweet hymns of the promise of heaven. 

“After eighteen years of pastoral ministry, I have never met a person who fell in love with Jesus because a Christian scolded them about their morality or their ethics. Have you?”

In the end, the following words of Anne Lamott hang hauntingly over me and I have mulled them over and over for hours.
“It’s okay to realize that you’re crazy and very damaged. All the best people are.
Grace and love must come before ethics.
No-condemnation must come before the morality discussion.

Because it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance, not our repentance that leads God to be kind.

Love – the broad embrace of the narrow path – will trigger some of the most life-giving experiences you’ll ever be part of.

I have known my own life-giving experiences and have been so grateful for love in action, grace expressed among the people of God who held me, never uttered a word and cried WITH me.
There is so much pain in this world. Pain that makes your heart feel as if it could explode at any moment and is only diffused when the eyes of compassion that look right back at you. Truth. Inthat very  moment of need, the eyes of love  and grace knows! There is no more peaceful place than the soul deep affirmation that you are loved and in that breath no words are needed. 
Not. One. Word. 
So where does that kind of love begin and grace abound?

“We must first realize that LOVE is the environment that we ourselves are already living inside of. 

Love has to be a Person to us before it can become a verb.” Scott Saul

At this day’s end…….. 
This small heart is overcome by God’s love that wraps me all up tight and swells over my life such palpable grace. 
Where DOES that kind of love begin and grace extend?
In and through me….
In and through you…..
Grace and love speak louder than words. ALWAYS!
Lord, keep me mindful of the your extreme love and grace extended to me. May my habit of love and grace’s response be exponentially the same on even the hardest days. 
When I am wrangling my own demons write love and grace in my heart. For all of my days; the good, challenging, when I don’t feel well, knees are swollen, head is aching, have worked hard on the sweatiest, coldest, draining, did not sleep well last night, aggravated, in need of heart rest and self care, backbreaking and enduring days.
And yes Lord, may we walk humbly in the love and grace that responds because of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. May our heavenly minded action respond as an outpouring of love and grace extended… 
May all that we know intellectually be true, honest and authentic as our lives speak of who God is- 
We love because God first loved us!
May our anthem cry be that of our view toward heaven and the level ground at the foot of the cross…..

Come ye sinners, poor and needy. 

Weak and wounded, sick and sore. 

Jesus, ready, stands to save you. 

Full of pity,  joined with power…

Let not conscience make you linger

 Nor of fitness fondly dream.

Check out the entire guest post @ 

http://annvoskamp.com/2017/02/its-okay-to-be-damaged-all-the-best-people-are/