Tag Archives: Service

Planting Shade Trees Through Story

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For the ladies of @mrocommunitycenter that travel. We have learned many stories this year that tell of who God is and more specifically stories that like Sally Clarkson have transformed my life!

Stories about ordinary people that crossed my path over my husband’s 23 year U.S. Air Force career. People who lives out bold faith for me to model as I watched them in their ordinary lives “do small things with great love” Mother Teresa

This amazing work done by Sally Clarkson inspires us to look for life-stories along the pathway of faith and life. Each one of us making impact through our daily interaction with our circle of life.

You will love Sally’s beautiful heart! She is like us. Seekers empowered by the faith-filled life stories of others! Stories that are must shares and worthy of our attention.

So breathe this all in with me as I share excerpts from Sally Clarkson’s recent blog post- Planting Shade Trees Through Story

Here’s the link for the full blog post. Seriously a must read!!

https://www.storyformed.com/blog/2017/7/4/planting-shade-trees-through-story

“That’s when my heart skipped a beat, and God took the words of a comedian I don’t even remember and began to reveal to me His plan for the rest of my life…..” 

“Like shade trees, stories give us roots. Stories connect us to the world and show us what it’s like to be human… 

Stories also remind us of the hope we have in the Gospel. The story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is the most important and greatest story ever told….. 

Stories, like family histories and local lore, can also ground us in our sense of self, place, and community. Like shade trees…..

Stories inspire us to great heights.

Stories inspire us with the same sense of wonder and imagination. It is through story that we can catch a vision of all that is possible in our amazing world. 

We read of heroes, inventors, explorers, creators, and we began to think, “if he can do that, maybe I can too!” 

Like shade trees, stories offer protection. When we hear tales of tragic choices or misguided decisions and see the disastrous consequences, those lessons are stored up in our hearts and minds and, hopefully, keep us from making similar mistakes. 

Stories also offer protection in the way that they form and restore our souls. Tales abound of people who survive difficult situations and circumstances because they called on the power of stories in the midst of their trials to sustain their hope. 

Corrie Ten Boom, in her book The Hiding Place, tells about how, night after night, the Biblical stories sustained her and her fellow prisoners in the concentration camps. 

Like shade trees, stories yield fruit. The purpose of planting stories as shade trees in the hearts and minds of ourselves and our children is so that, ultimately, the seeds come to fruition. 

“Story-formed children grow to adulthood understanding that they have been specially formed by a loving God, destined for his kingdom, specially crafted to love, create, and conquer. They have reason to respond to their parents’ training, to work and learn, hope and know, because stories assure them that right choices and brave actions are the force behind happy endings.”  -Sarah Clarkson, Caught up in a Story

The fruits of the immigrant great-grandfather’s diligent work of planting shade trees were enjoyed by his descendants for generations. But he planted more than physical trees that day. 

He told a story, and that story made its way to me in that wooden pew 1000 miles and three generations away, on an ordinary Sunday evening. And a spiritual seed was sown in my heart that continues to grow to this day. He never saw the fruits of his labors. He never enjoyed the relief from the oppressive Texas heat. He never even knew that one day a woman in North Carolina would catch a lifelong vision as a result of his tale. 

But the fruit remains. Like him, as parents we may never see the fruits of our labors as we diligently work to surround our children with the very best stories, in hopes that the stories will shape them. 

“Blessed is the one…[whose] delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” Psalm 1

Excerpt from blog post by Sally Clarkson @ Story Formed Blog

https://www.storyformed.com/blog/2017/7/4/planting-shade-trees-through-story

She Senses The Worth of Her Work

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She Senses The Worth of Her Work

I have aspired to these words because of the faithful example of my grandmother. 

I lived to know “love” like she did. 

Genuine, transparent and honest.

I lived to “do” as she did out of genuine love for others.

No matter their story, she gave, served and never doubted her commitment to the opportunity that God would provide. 

Available. Sensitive. Attentive.

I live to “live” like she did. 

Full. Free. Faithful.
By faith, with the Lord’s help and empowered by the “helper”, the Holy Spirit. 

She was the breath of God and that passion still breathes in me. 

She was opulent. She was a lover of life, a dreamer of big dreams and a faithful servant of God.

Why? 

Because God never does things half-way.

She was brave, strong-minded and invincible, with a whole lot of Scarlett O’Hara in her. 

She picked up the pieces in the midst of tragedy and built life kingdoms with love, grace, kindness and faith. 

My grandfather, her husband, would succumb to a heart attack at the age of 42. Gone too soon. She was resilient and has a push through attitude- There was not an option to quit but to thrive, not just survive!

Yet the steel resolve, life’s had chiseled in stone on my grandmother’s brow as her face told her story of hard things. 

YES! Hard things. 

She grew up a tobacco and watermelon farmer’s daughter. They lived on land inherited from my great-grandmother Emma Blanche Melvin. Her father, Larry Fisher married into a very wealthy, yet hard-working family and proceeded to the work of his hand- a 200 hundred acre farm alongside of his beloved.

Only two of their children survived their childhood. It was challenging but God was faithful to fill their small family with love,  mercy and commitment to giving to the greater good of others.

Sadness. Loss. Struggle. 

My grandmother would learn it all too well herself! She gave birth to my mother, Anne, and she would be her only child after many lost pregnancies.
I have never known such rich love and I have failed at much of the active part of faith spoken to and based on the “perfect” Proverbs 31 wife.

Yet I know grace, an unending love for my Savior and a commitment to give my life to loving and serving others in Jesus name.

So while I never expected unrealistic perfection from my grandmother I learned about grace from her. Grace given. Grace received. She owned her failure, sorrow, pain, offered up a sincere apology for any error and then picked herself up to blaze a new and good path forward. 

I LOVED, still love and admire her tenacity. No time to waste! She KNEW the worth of her work and she challenged me to live the same. She lived fully present despite being a widow until she died.

Passion. To dream big dreams. To obey every little unseen yet worthy sacrifice to see it to the end and to the best of my ability.

She taught me real things. Like how to make biscuits. My favorite place was standing on a short stool at the white and red metal table. Most every morning she cooked and I made biscuits. He morning routine included listening to the local news, weather and of course the obituaries on the old radio in her kitchen. I was offended shushed up so that she could hear. When she hears about a need, an unexpected loss, felt moved with compassion- we’d make more biscuits, fry some chicken, pack a box with it all and add some sweet tea. 

We’d pile in the car and deliver food made with love, wrap compassions arms around someone with great love and set the table, put ice in the glasses and make sure everyone was cared for. She  would say to me as we left every time, “We can only pray that the mourner’s sorrow would be made light with loves response.”

So, Mama Hales, this one is for you! I cannot imagine my life of faith without your tender heart and guided hand that faithfully taught me how to find my passion for doing good with my life and encouraged me to extend mercy and grace to everyone one small step at a time.

Heaven is better for you being there as I can imagine your strong demeanor and passion is bowed low before the Heavenly Father in worship. You are praying us forward and encouraging us to not lose heart. To keep the faith. To obey the Father. To never forget God’s love for us. To serve Him for all of our days.

Not one will ever likely tell of the your impact in your small world but I will remain faithful to every little thing that I am tasked to do- for YOUR glory and our good. 

So much to learn, so much to surrender and so much left to live- a beautiful legacy of faith that you have gifted us with and now we hold it all in our hearts until heaven.

“A good woman is hard to find,and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it. Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long.

She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing.

She’s like a trading ship that sails to faraway places and brings back exotic surprises. 

She’s up before dawn, preparing breakfastfor her family and organizing her day. 

She looks over a field and buys it, then, with money she’s put aside, plants a garden.

First thing in the morning, she dresses for work, rolls up her sleeves, eager to get started. 

She senses the worth of her work……and is in no hurry to call it quits for the day. 

She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking. 

She’s quick to assist anyone in need, reaches out to help the poor. 

She doesn’t worry about her family when it snows; their winter clothes are all mended and ready to wear. 

She makes her own clothing, and dresses in colorful linens and silks.

Her husband is greatly respected when he deliberates with the city fathers. 

She designs gowns and sells them, brings the sweaters she knits to the dress shops. Her clothes are well-made and elegant, and she always faces tomorrow with a smile.

When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. 

She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,

and keeps them all busy and productive. 

Her child(ren) respect and bless her; her husband joins in with words of praise.

“Many women have done wonderful things, but you’ve outclassed them all!” 

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.

Give her everything she deserves! Festoon her life with praises!” 

Proverbs 31:25-3I

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!