Tag Archives: Service

Celebrating Veteran’s Day

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Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Goldsboro, NC 1980

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Goldsboro, NC 1980

So proud of my husband, U. S. Air Force Retired Monty Self. Our service together as a family has taught us so many wonderful things and blessed us with amazing friendships all around the world.

It is a choice that is not for the faint of heart. There were challenges all along the way but our lives are richer for it and I would not change one moment of our military lifestyle. We’re all blessed by the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to grant us the freedoms that we enjoy today!

May the Lord continue to honor and bless every service member past and present. We pray earnestly for the family member(s) related to a veteran or active duty service member for YOUR sacrifice as well!! You are the unsung heroes who keep the home front strong while the person serving does what they believe in….protecting and defending the constitution of the United States of America at all costs.

We are still One nation under God! A huge thank you to ALL veterans for your service! We honor YOU!!!

Happy Veteran’s Day with deep appreciation!

Protect And Defend

Protect And Defend

Treasures In Heaven

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Up-Cycled Treasures: When The Old Becomes New Again

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An old door turned into a photo frame for home display. http://www.photogmommie.com/an-old-door-our-story

An old door turned into a photo frame for home display.
http://www.photogmommie.com/an-old-door-our-story

An old door turned into a photo frame board for displaying photos in your home….transformed and given new life!!

Rested, renewed, refreshed and inspired by this Pinterest pin after meandering through an old general store, mountain art galleries and an antique shop today as we slowly made our way home from a weekend of mountain retreat.

At every turn I was lovingly reminded, in every touch of up-cycled treasures, how very much I love re-purposing things that are so easily discarded. The truth is, I have been a collector of treasures tossed aside as trash since my teens. Items considered disposable (trash), unlovely, without value often found their way into my possession. And it still brings me joy to consider that others see, as I do, beyond the scratches, dents, faded color and dirt to see the beauty, new, practical and worthy life beyond what is obvious. Taking what is old and finding creative ways to recreate and usher in new life again. The old has become new again. My favorite idiom,  “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” ~Plato, is once again true.

Antique Store Treasure that found a new home today. Lovingly used Metal Box Bank with red and green patina

Antique Store Treasure that found a new home today. Lovingly used Metal Box Bank with red and green patina

Just like me, Jesus gave His life to take the place of every part of my unlovely self (sin), unworthy life and a heart in desperate need of rescue and restoration that the patina of my life had tarnished. God saw in me something beautiful, valuable and worthy of the cost to offer me a second chance to be new again through a relationship based on faith in the cross, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

My home continues to be filled with new opportunities for life (physical and spiritual), as my husband and I have given our lives in service to our Lord. We continue to collect, nurture and love the less lovely and give them a home, a place to belong, just as Jesus has lovingly done for us. Every person and piece tells the story of who we are from family heirlooms to pieces that only the one who looks for beauty beyond what our eyes can see and I, a life rescued from sin and given new life and an eternal inheritance and home.

My loved, restored and less than perfect accepted heart will continue to tell of His goodness….My Lord, a collector of people like me, one the world would have tossed away but He, my creator, found a greater use…..He had a purpose and plan before the foundation of the world and now I walk worthy only because of His grace-filled love for me.

He sees me as perfect, worthy and lovely through the blood of Jesus Christ. My sin has been removed as far as the east is from the west……..

My home remains, a place where beauty is seen, appreciated and I will never forget to extend the same grace and love that the Lord extends to me. Love covers.

Even still……

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.  The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

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2013 Motor Racing Outreach Ladies Summer Caution

You will not want to miss this July 16 event and the follow-up July 23 opportunity to serve more than 100 needy children who live in the River Street Park neighborhood!! We are collecting back packs and school supplies for the back to school distribution on July 23. Hope to see you there!!

Rhythm Church @ River Street Park

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The 2013 Joy Journey River Street Park

The 2013 Joy Journey
http://www.go2mro.com
Motor Racing Outreach
River Street Park

At this days’ end….
Hearts bent low, enlarged and filled with gratitude……
Every small gift glimpsed, this side of heaven today, culminates in fullness of joy!! When we fail to find the right words, Ann Voskamp’s daily journal entry captures thoughts, conversations, wonderings and the tenet of our collective hearts find definition.
Dump Harper

Dump Harper

“Something grows in me and it doesn’t have words and it doesn’t ask for words. Asks only witnessing. Only gratitude. Only the living that lets the everyday dirt become the sacred everyday. There are times it seems wrong to keep your shoes on, to do anything less than stand bare-heeled and bowed and broken wide open. Them bent. The way a soul can grow any way it chooses.” @AnnVoskamp One Thousand Gifts A Dare To Live Fully Right Where You Are http://www.aholyexperience.com/

Gwen Howard and Karen Clark

Gwen Howard and Karen Clark

Tonight our hearts thank God for freedom’s voice captured on this warm, sunny day in May. The freedom to thoughtfully pursue life as God speaks, to find hope in the cumulative, simple graces of seasoned friendships with like hearts alongside together. For this life to have a reason to get up each day, to breathe and for hearts that beat to faithfully serve God out of His great love for us!

“Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that He has given you.” Deuteronomy 16:17

We made & welcomed two new friends. Our walk through the River Street Community was so worth the time. The Spirit’s work in our hearts. Our eyes become the window genuine and touch all that God longs for on this day. We see the soil of hearts and seed every eternal truth we can into them. His touch like a fountain flows for the purpose of bearing witness to the something greater that He is within us. We absolutely understanding that we are so small in this world; the lesser things, nothing special except that His Holy Spirit lives in and through us. Blessed that He has purposed His desire, earnest and searing “for such time as this’

River Street Park

River Street Park
“All of this darkness can’t overtake that little tiny light,” Michael “Big Dog” Burris

We, tucked beneath our sturdy roofs, safely protected from the rain, wind, and earthly elements. In the eternal, through life’s storms, promises made, broken and kept, daily bread, living water, provision, a future, a hope, an eternal promise……HIS promises…..oh yes, and the wind at the top of the hill on a very hot day. We commit, search, pursue, and pray in faith believing just as Jesus taught us. Our Father..in Heaven..hallowed be Thy name…Thy will be done….On earth as it is in Heaven….Daily Bread….forgiveness of debt…forgiving our debtors…lead not into temptation….deliver us from evil…Thine is: the Power, the Glory…Forever!!!

946618_564229967217_1434667506_nOn reflection, we share hearts overwhelmed with goodness. Tender hugs, life’s challenges confessed…transparent. No place or need to hide. Life is hard. We are all on this journey of faith together as seekers, dreamers, hopeful hearts, open, guarded and filled with the raw emotion of scars from life’s raging battles….The rhythm of our movement still takes our breath away. We should listen more closely to the children. Their unheard cry for help is simple and their love is without demands. Sweet kisses on our cheeks. A small hand touches a back, just to be close and shares his applesauce as an offering for sharing our kindnesses…..Mother, daughters and grandchildren share this day together.

Mother, daughters and grandchildren share this day together.

It is whimsical, fun, intent as little hearts hug you from behind, beside, from the top of our heads to the very planting of our feet. Paint on noses, fingers, toes and clothing but with concentrated effort. Four small boys try to sit all at once on an open lap. Every person from young to old sits to paint, relax and feel child-like again. Every time our back is to them and upon turning around, another chair, a new face smiling at the simplicity of life’s activity in the neighborhood. Nowhere else to be but just in the here…the now. So far removed from any lingering thoughts of tense moments as they arise or what will be when the sun goes down. The “I love you’s” still linger and haunt us in every good way. Any child there could be loved as our own. No need for explanation or to know any part of the story because of the active heart of God’s Holy Spirit is breathing, seeing, stirring, bringing to life every closed off place in our hearts. His love for humanity surrounds us and is in EVERY touch!!!!

Kristen Yeley, Bobby and Missy deSouza

Kristen Yeley, Bobby and Missy deSouza

We pause, step back and see in every vignette, all hearts smiling. We are forced to take a deep breath and settle our spirits into the fullness of God. The wellspring of life!!!! Tangible. Measurable…Palpable. It is close: in your lap, on your hip, a jump from behind or in front that dares to literally knock you down.. To be reminded that a simple wooden car is the key that has opened this lovely door.Matt Clark
Matt Clark
In the middle of everything that is messy, the square covered shelter becomes a  life-giving place that allows us all  to forget….even if just for one moment!!  And how it stops us, dead in our tracks, with its fullness. Smiles….genuine, momentary, fleeting and there is little time to savor and chew on its richness….a snapshot of life….real life!! And then we consider and wish for one more life to live, to do more, to reach deeper and farther in the promise of seeing God’s Kingdom enlarged and made greater. Sigh.
Gwen Howard

Gwen Howard

Humbled…we slow and savor our heart’s cry. Hoping to capture every second and store the time deep within that place in our hearts that we draw from on the hard days. In recollection, we are posed with a relative question…In OUR day-to-day living, is there really this kind of hard? How God has filled our cups to overflowing. We cry out to God with hands uplifted in praise and pray, Lord,  fill them up again tonight!!
Living Love

Living Love

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18

“We’ll give thanks to You with gratitude. For lessons learned in how to trust in You. That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream. In abundance or in need. And if You never grant us peace. But Jesus, would You please . .” Nicole Nordeman

“When thanks to God becomes a habit – so joy in God becomes your life.” Ann Voskamp

Danielle Bolin, Melanie Self, Faith Yeley, Dump Harper, JJ Yeley

Danielle Bolin, Melanie Self, Faith Yeley, Dump Harper, JJ Yeley

Gratitude by Nicloe Nordeman

River Street Park Love

River Street Park Love

Check out the complete photo album on Facebook!

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201288819965369.1073741827.1318481111&type=1&l=9689e76adb

Small Handful Of Faith

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So, I may as well warn you that this is the LONG version……a week early!!

I promise to condense my wandering sentences as I find the “short” answer to the seemingly “simple” question!!

“Share a small step you took toward your dream.” Holley Gerth

Have you ever had that moment in your journey of faith when the Holy Spirit crashes into your understanding? Shakes your soul’s core? Stirs your heart to pause for reflection? While flawed and imperfect, you have prayed and been faithful in every little faith-filled step. Yet there are some days when it almost feels like you have really not done or been enough. There should have been more to it, there is more to it and its simplicity makes you wonder, Lord, did I miss anything of the more that You would have me do?

You know that God is near. You cannot escape the capture of the Holy Spirits moment. You feel the spirit of God’s touch and you are drawn to its fullness. You have followed Him knowing that every conversation, dream, thought and desire sent before the throne of God was heard with the heart and arms. of your loving Father.  And once again, you purpose to listen….REALLY listen. Heart intent on hearing His Spirit’s heart voice as He whispers,  “I am here.” Before your mind can comprehend His presence, your heart responds as your soul man screams……YES, this is it!!!That is what it all means in the reflection of every Kingdom of God movement that you have ever made in your life in serving your Lord and Savior and every little thing you have done matters. Wow!!

God-sized Dream = A desire in your heart for more of what God has for you.

When challenged with the upcoming weeks question, I slowed my pace, and with that pause, smiled deep, leaned my head back  and closed my eyes. In my heart,  I journeyed back to where the first baby steps of this earnest God seekers life began. Singing Mary’s song at the age of five and realizing the message and power of the words as hearts responded. At the age of ten, sitting in a liturgical swirl of words with greater meaning than my age could absorb. All the while, the stirring movement of the Holy Spirit drawing my heart, tears streaming down my face so rapidly that my hands could not contain them. At sixteen surrendering my heart to Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of my sin, eternal life and surrendered my life to His Lordship. I understood then the heart of a servant and longed to be one that served well.

I remember the 2013 God-Sized Dreams Team application explanation of God-Sized Dreams:

“A God-sized dream is not about size–It’s about the desires God has placed within you that perfectly fit YOUR heart”

As I am living……my soul murmured……

Desires, heart, spiritual gifts, abilities, personality, life experience….Dare I dream?

Dreams dreamed. Dreams realized. Failed dreams that lacked faith on my part. Dreams growing. Dreams changing. Challenging Dreams Bigger Than My ability to believe and here I stand the hope-filled dreamer…..still dreaming. His faithfulness the sure thing. Still doubting that God can use any part of my lack for His good and glory. I make an analysis of each “opportunity” that God speaks to my heart brings the discovery that each dream hoped for started with one little baby step at a time!!I knew upon coming into relationship with Jesus that I was created for the more than what I could even comprehend. The dream giver seeking out my heart and soul for His own.

Today as I prepared to share the small step that I have taken to follow the dreams that God is currently writing on my heart, I was overwhelmed. My chest rose with a swell of deep breath, and I clearly see in my minds-eye that every purposeful step of faith has led to moments of searching for the more of God and what He might do with my small, yet sincere handful of faith. I am still on a journey towards the desires that God has placed within me that perfectly fit my heart. And I can only pray that the fullness of all that He has done in my life will be an offering that is filled with a sweet fragrance that is acceptable, pleasing and honoring. That in some small corner of His world this offering will matter to Him as He sees the gift as eternal.

Overall, my little life’s dream journey has brought me into and prepared me for this one moment in time. The same little girl who came into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ continues to wonder how God can use my small handful of faith lifted unto Him as an offering for His glory. I am living mid-dream, and He continues to woo me into the next place of dreaming His dreams. His desires to use His creation for His glory and good! Each new day is an exercise of listening to the Holy Spirit as it grips our hearts.

I am almost sure that I am not alone. Maybe you are standing where I was. Wondering if in some small way this dream that is gripping you is worthy and that you are capable. It is almost embarrassing to say it out loud for fear that someone would think it strange. No one is capable or worthy apart from Him but in Him ALL things are possible.

“The way of the Dreamer is difficult, but anything less is hardly living at all.” The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson

Does God have dreams for YOUR heart? The truth is: The hardest thing to do is to take the first step. In faith, believing that God brings your small handful of faith to bring honor and glory to Him. It is a beautiful thing to experience the moment that He enlarges our hearts with His dreams and builds our faith. Without a doubt, the same God that placed dreams in my heart will give to you the dreams that perfectly fit YOUR heart!!

I am praying for you. If there are dreams you need to share, if your heart and mind are in conflict and if you need a friend to share the journey……from one dreamer to another…..allow me the joy of joining your dream journey. I promise…..you can believe that your small world matters to God AND to me!!

To His beloved……..Take one simple step at a time…..and find new life in His dreams for you.

You’ll find me Living Simply and Simply Living His dream for my life…….. Mel

Small Handful of Faith

Small Handful of Faith

I’m A part of the 2013 God-Sized Dreams Team with Holley Gerth

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I'm Part Of The 2013 God-Sized Dreams Team with Holley Gerth

I’m Part Of The 2013 God-Sized Dreams Team with Holley Gerth

 

The 2013 God-sized Dreams Team. Blessed to be a part of this creative and Spirit-Led group of women!! Believing God for those awaiting dreams in your heart to be affirmed, those living out God’s dream to see the miraculous, rejoice, give Him glory and those who are just beginning to dream….to keep dreaming, keep serving, keep seeking, keep learning, longing and believing God for His moment for you!! For His glory, for His kingdom come…His will be done!!!!

God’s dreams written on our hearts encourage and enable each step forward through the power of the Holy Spirit. Will it matter that we were here?

“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it.” – Peterson

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!

No regrets!

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Paul speaking…..

“I have no regrets. I couldn’t be more sure of my ground—the One I’ve trusted in can take care of what He’s trusted me to do right to the end.So keep at your work, this faith and love rooted in Christ, exactly as I set it out for you. It’s as sound as the day you first heard it from me. Guard this precious thing placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.” 2 Timothy 1:12-15 (MSG)

Over the past few days there was a collision course of activity in my life. At times during the day, it felt as if I were surrounded by the thousands that followed Moses as he led them through the wilderness. I can assure you that from my small corner of the world, anything that is accomplished by the Lord through me certainly pales in comparison. The number of moments to spiritually invest in others was seemingly doable but only if each activity had not crossed at the same moment on the timeline. Has this ever been YOUR story?

Old relationships deepened, new relationships encouraged, words that left my heart would be repeated 10 times or more over the course of 24 hours. Yet, in the landslide, I was at peace, reminded by the presence of God in my life, to hold true. To be sure of my ground….His ground….claimed for the furtherance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, encouraging the seeker and speaking life into the spiritual journey of those that proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior.

I have been entrusted with the message by the One who has written on my heart to do “right to the end”.

So, I encourage you today, beloved of God, to keep at your work. If you seem to be on a collision course that may seemingly derail you. Keep the faith, find power in and rejoice in the love that you are rooted in and through Jesus Christ. We do this in His strength and power, one step at a time.

“Guard this precious thing placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us.” 2 Timothy 2:12-15

While we all grow weary at times, going away to rest was Jesus example. I am praying for you today that you will flourish in strength, love and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Living simply….simply living!

Melanie