Monday, December 17, 2012

Update from Brooke 12/17/12

Brooke was finally able to post a blog update. Please visit the following link to see the amazing vision God gave a friend for her:

www.livingwater17.blogspot.com

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Dump

My daughter who has lived in suburbia her whole life...who has a soft bed with pretty pillows...who never has to wonder where her next meal will come from...my daughter just spent the night in a garbage dump.

She is interning with Pioneer61, a ministry dedicated to rescuing homeless boys in Tete, Mozambique, giving them a new identity as dearly loved sons of Abba Father, co-heirs with Christ, and dwelling places of the Holy Spirit. These boys have been tossed aside by society and run off from place to place to place, until  they ended up at their current living quarters - the city dump.

We are raising funds for their Shekinah Healing Home to be built and the boys themselves are helping to build it, but until it is built, this is their home. Brooke and the team from Harvest School 17 felt led to experience life as the boys do by sleeping at the dump. They took nothing with them. Pioneer61 founders, Nick and Marlene dropped them off last night, choosing not to stay with them, so they got a true feel for what it's like to live among them with no interpreter.

Brooke texted to let me know what was happening and to ask me to pray...um...helloooo...my baby is about to sleep in a DUMP!!  Of course, I'm going to pray!!!  She said not to worry, because they had three big Alabama boys on the team plus a guy who looks like Jesus. I told her I wasn't worried, but I was going to call on some angels...not the pretty ones who sing in the choir...the big, muscle-bound bodyguard ones!!

Nick posted a picture to Facebook of the team standing in a circle holding hands with the boys, surrounded by garbage.  Several people had commented on the picture and I felt led to write the following: 
Praying the radiance of His glory is seen for miles around...and no one will be able to fathom that it's coming from, of all places, a dump! Kinda like the first Christmas, huh?

I had sent an email to our church family asking them to pray for Brooke and team as they slept at the dump. We have services Friday evenings for adults and Sunday mornings for families, but Eddy and I didn't attend last night, because of a birthday party for our son. This morning I got the following email from a friend who was there (who had NOT seen my facebook comment, since she doesn't have a facebook!):

We all prayed last night at The Nest for Brooke. I had a picture and was praying through it in my own heart as others were praying out loud…..and then [someone else] prayed exactly what I was seeing! Not feeling especially nostalgic or Christmas focused, I saw Brooke and the team and the boys out there in that smelly ole dump just like the shepherds to whom the angels came and announced the birth of Jesus. So I prayed the glory of God would fill that place where they were last night. And I thought of how that is just what Jesus came to do…..reach everyone with His love and good news…..from those living in the dump, to those of us living in Williamson County, TN! And I also thought of Brooke being much like Jesus himself in her going. She has left her own comforts and privileged life to love on the lowly and destitute and those without hope, unless she is willing to come to them and bring them the good news. Anyway, it was a beautiful and powerful thing I was experiencing and I pray she had a taste of it. 

Brooke (not knowing about ANY of this correspondence) sent the following update:
My life is changed!...[She then directed me to read her facebook status, which said, "We had the honor of spending the night with our boys in the dump where they are living right now in the city. They made beds for us out of giant rocks, gave us their only sheets and served us dinner. God has done a huge work in them and begun to transform them. They kept saying we are their family. It was such an amazing experience getting to see how they live every single night. Now I know how to pray for and relate to them and raise awareness to get their home built soon! We are so wrecked today. Jesus blessed us so much through our boys"]...these boys have begun to be transformed and it's incredible. They were moving giant rocks and stuff, making us beds and serving us their dinner. They said we were family and they would protect us from the bad guys. We all slept in a pile together in the same area....The oldest, who's their leader had a sheet keeping him warm an he looked over to me and asked if I was cold, 'cause I didn't have one. I told him I was fine, but he asked like three times, then he said, "No. You are cold", then he put his sheet on me. So sweet taking care of his sister. I almost started crying right there. None of them speak English, but somehow I was like the translator. I don't know how I did it, but I did! We literally felt the Presence while we were out there last night. It was so peaceful where we were and just across the street was partying and fighting.

Oh Emmanuel, was this what it was like for you? You left the comforts of Your Home - Heaven to be born in a stinky stable. You did it because of Your love for Your people. You did it for the least of these. You did it for the poor and the poor in spirit. You came to show us what The Father is like. You came to make a way for us to be like You. Brooke was like You last night. She reflected The Father's glory in a very dark place. She went to love the least of these. But the amazing thing is that she was the one who was loved. 

Honestly, I can't imagine a more beautiful expression of loving The One and loving the one...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

All Means All

Refer to post titled "Multiplication Anointing" for the back story to this post.

Jehovah Jireh is at it again!  Brooke called last night to share another story of God's miraculous provision. Yesterday God took me to two scriptures I felt led to send to Brooke. It was more in light of knowing she was upset about having to say goodbye to her brothers and sisters in Pemba. The first was Colossians 2:2, which says, "I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God's mysterious plan which is Christ Himself." The other was Philippians 4:19, which says, "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." This second one is one I usually read in light of God providing for my material needs, but I sent it to Brooke with the revelation that "all" means ALL! He will supply ALL our needs! Brooke was sad and needed comfort. He supplies comfort!

She had spent more money while in Pemba than she'd originally budgeted, because God told her to buy certain things for certain people and she obeyed. As she packed up to go to Tete, she grew concerned that she might nor have enough money for the trip and her stay there. She doesn't want Nick and Marlene to be out any money on her account, and wants to contribute to their living expenses. She asked God to provide what she needed. She was going through the pouch where she keeps her passport and important documents, making sure all was in order, and discovered 4 metical bills (Mozambican currency) worth 1,000 mets each, which translates to about $200 US dollars! She KNOWS she didn't put it there, because she didn't even know there was such a thing as a thousand met bill!!  

She checked in at the Pemba airport, and ended up having to pay a bag fee. The amount? 1,000 mets! All means ALL!!!

He supplies ALL our needs!!  How? His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. His supply of whatever we need never runs out. Need love? He lavishes it. Need joy? He gives it for our strength. Need peace? He's the Prince of it. Need healing? His stripes paid for it. Need provision? He's Jehovah Jireh, God our Provider! Not only does He SUPPLY all we need, He IS all we need! He is our Abba Father, Who generously blesses His kids with good gifts. He is our All in All.  

  





Sunday, December 2, 2012

Multiplication Anointing

Our kids and teens at church are collecting money to help Pioneer61 build the Shekinah Healing Home in Tete, Mozambique. My son, Blake was cleaning his room one day last week, and every time he found money on the floor, he'd put it in his bottle, then he'd turn around and there would be more money on the floor. He'd pick it up and put it in the bottle, then he'd look again, and again there'd be more money on the floor!  

Blake shared his story at church last Sunday, then after church as I was walking to my car, I saw $11 cash in the middle of the parking lot, so I picked it up and asked around to see if it belonged to anyone, but no one claimed it, so I thanked God for it and put it in the Shekinah bottle. Later God reminded me of the scripture He gave Nick and Marlene for Shekinah...Jeremiah 29...guess which verse...11!

This week we had some missionaries staying with us from We Will Go in Jackson, MS (See previous post). Laura has a multiplication anointing. The whole time they were here, she shared story after story after story of God's miraculous provision in her life. 

Wednesday evening, I attended a conference here in town put on by Larry Randolph with guest speaker Bill Johnson. I rarely carry cash, but when the offering bucket was passed, God told me to check my jacket pocket, so I did. I was surprised to feel some bills in there! He said not to look at the amount, just to give it all, so I did.

Thursday evening I went back to the conference. This time when the bucket was passed, I started to check my pocket again, then remembered the jacket I'd worn that night didn't have any pockets. God said to check my billfold, so I did, and again there was cash in it! Again, He said not to check the amount, just to put it all in, so I did. My missionary friends had gone to the conference with me and we'd stayed late to receive prayer from Bill Johnson's team. Afterward, as we made our way toward the exit, Laura looked down and saw a $20 bill on the floor! She picked it up and asked God what to do with it. He said to put it in the offering bucket, so she did.

Friday morning my friends left, but first they blessed our family and home, including a prayer for the multiplication anointing to be upon us. That evening Eddy went with me to the conference and checked his wallet to see if there was any cash in it to put in the offering bucket, but there was NO CASH in it, so he wrote a check instead. 

Saturday morning, I went to the conference and sat by two friends. One asked if either of us had $1, so she could buy some bottled water. I checked, but this time found no cash. My other friend said she'd just spent 10 minutes searching every nook and cranny in her purse trying to find some money to buy herself a Diet Coke. After scrounging around, she finally found enough, but only left about 8 pennies in her purse, but she said she'd look one more time. She pulled out a pile of change, which added up to just enough to buy the bottled water!  

Saturday morning, Eddy wrote our tithe check to the church and put it in his wallet. When he opened his wallet, there was NO CASH in it. At church this morning, he opened his wallet to take out the tithe check and there, in his wallet, where he'd checked both Friday night and Saturday morning, there was a $5 bill!!  He shared what had just happened with our church family, holding up the bill for all to see. He felt like it was to go to Shekinah, so he folded it up and set it on the corner of the sound table, where he sits every Sunday. The table is near the front of the room, so there is no way anyone could have sneaked any money into that folded up $5 without being seen. 

We continued with the service, including a lesson on Isaiah 61, so we spent some time talking about and praying for Pioneer61 and the Shekinah boys. After worship, my son Brent came over to put Eddy's $5 into the Shekinah bottle. When he picked it up and unfolded it, a $20 bill was tucked inside the fold!!!  

WOW!!!  Talk about MULTIPLICATION!!!

Jesus multiplied bread and fish in the Bible, so why wouldn't He multiply $5 bills???

How have you experienced the multiplication anointing? I'd love to hear your story!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Stories

Who doesn't love a good story? I have spent a good portion of my day sitting around swapping stories with a couple of amazing missionaries who I have the honor of hosting in my home for a few days. To the casual observer it might seem as if we are attempting to one-up each other with what sounds like "my daddy's bigger than your daddy" stories, but the thing about the stories we're sharing is that we're all bragging about the same Daddy! Our Papa God is worth bragging about! The purpose of our stories about Him isn't to try to out-do one another with a better story, but to give Him glory for what He's done and to say, "Do it again, Lord!". When I hear a story of how God has miraculously provided for someone's needs, it reminds me of times He's miraculously provided for me, which builds my faith, and in turn builds the other person's faith when I share my story with them. It's part of that iron-sharpening-iron, building-one-another-up thing God instructs us to do. 

Both of these beautiful missionaries currently serve in the inner city of Jackson, MS at We Will Go, which is dear to my heart (See previous posts). Both have also been to Harvest School in Mozambique, which is where Brooke is right now, so I love hearing their stories from that experience. It helps to fill a void from not having her here with me, and somehow makes me feel closer to her. 

At this moment, they are out on a Holy Spirit adventure in Franklin, listening to His voice saying, "Turn to the left, turn to the right, this is the way, walk in it."
Can't wait to hear the stories that come from this little journey!  

See, the thing about stories is that they need to be told. The Israelites made the mistake of not telling their God stories to the next generation and got themselves in a lot of hot water because of it. Psalm 145:4 says, "Generation after generation stands in awe of your work; each one tells stories of your mighty acts." I'm so thankful my boys were here today to hear these stories as they did their school work, occasionally chiming in with a story of their own. 

Do you have a story of His mighty acts? I'd love to hear it! Swapping His stories is a powerful way to love The One and love the one...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Voices

A few days ago I was awakened at 4:30 a.m. by my cell phone vibrating on the night stand. The picture on the screen showed it was coming from Brooke's number. Brooke has been in Pemba, Mozambique for nearly 2 months, attending Iris Ministries Harvest School http://www.irismin.org/missions/harvest/, and the only times she's called since then have been when she's walked into the village to a restaurant called Hakuna Matata, which has free wi-fi. We are then able to either attempt to Skype (though we usually get disconnected numerous times), or Viber call or text, and it doesn't cost anything. So, in my still-mostly-asleep-state, I couldn't imagine why on earth she was calling from her regular phone service. 

I groggily managed to key in my passcode to unlock my phone and slur a sleepy "Hello". Much to my surprise, it wasn't Brooke's voice on the other end, but a Mozambican male, saying his name was Joe and he's a friend of Brooke's. I asked where Brooke was and he replied that she was "in the kitchen getting food". When I asked why he had her phone, the call was disconnected. 

Now any mother will tell you that regardless of how faith-filled we are during the day, when we are awakened by a phone call regarding our children in the wee hours of the morning, most of our brains automatically go to a place of worry, and mine was no exception. All I could think was that Nick's phone had been stolen in Tete, Mozambique. Nick and his wife Marlene are founders of Pioneer61, where Brooke will intern for 3 months following Harvest School. http://pioneer61.org/  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUEBGp649mw

Needless to say I was now wide awake! I immediately tried calling her back, but it went straight to voicemail. I texted, asking her to call me, so I could hear her voice or to at least text me something only she would know, so I knew she was OK and in possession of her phone. I waited a few minutes, but got no response. OK, now what?!  I remembered I had an emergency number to Harvest School, but didn't want to use it unnecessarily, but still I could possibly send an email to someone, so I got my computer out. I had not logged out of facebook the night before and it came up when I opened my laptop. The first person's status which appeared on my newsfeed was Papa Jim, a missionary there in Pemba! Right below him was our sweet friend, Tetra, also a Pemba missionary!  Thank You, Jesus!! I messaged them both, explaining what had happened and asked them to check on Brooke for me. 

Within an hour, I heard she was safe and sound and that her phone battery had just died, but still no explanation about this guy named Joe or why he had her phone. Finally, I got a text from Brooke with the explanation. Joe is one of the kids who lives at Iris and Brooke had allowed him to use her phone to listen to music while she ate. She had given strict instructions that he not use her phone to call, text, or get online, and she thought it was hilarious that after he disobeyed, her phone had died, providing a natural consequence to his disobedience. OK, maybe hilarious to her, but not to her poor, worried, sleep-deprived mother!  ; )

I texted back that I was thankful she was OK and had her phone, but to tell Joe he is on my "naughty list"!  ; )

Now that I knew all was well, I decided to go ahead and get my day started, so I opened my devotional book, Jesus Calling for Kids http://www.jesuscallingkidsapp.com/ to that day's date and the title made me laugh: "My Voice". It was hearing a stranger's voice on the other end of the phone that caused my mind to go to a place of worry. This was just too funny! The scripture was Isaiah 30:21, one of my favorites: Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way; walk in it."

This verse always reminds me of an object lesson I did with kids at camp one year. I blindfolded one child and gave him a marker. In front of him on the wall was a maze. I instructed him to only follow the instructions given to him by his dad's voice. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, as his dad began giving instructions, "Draw a line going left...now draw a line going up...now right...", I had everyone else in the room begin giving false directions at the same time. The child had to learn to tune out all the other voices and only listen to his dad's voice. The lesson? Our Daddy, Father God, will always lead us on the right path. His voice will tell us which way to go. It's our job to tune out distractions and listen to only His voice. 

I had allowed a stranger's voice to take me down the path of worry, when all along my Daddy's voice was behind me saying, "All is well. I promised to take care of Brooke and I am. Trust Me."

Can you think of a time when you clearly sensed God's voice behind you saying, ""This is the way; walk in it."?

Please share.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Emotional Roller Coaster

The title pretty accurately describes my life the last few weeks. August 17, our family packed up a rental mini-van and Bradley's little black car and headed to Florida. We were moving Bradley into a dorm on the campus of Southeastern University. Brad was dual enrolled as a senior in high school at our local community college, but various circumstances led him to stop going to school and work full time. This year began with some serious challenges for Bradley, but God is good and faithful, and He began opening doors for Brad to return to school, this time at SEU, where he is studying all aspects of the film industry. While most of his friends graduated from college this year, he is just now experiencing college life. As we said goodbye, I thought to myself, "How in the world do moms do this when their kid is only 18?! Mine's a few days shy of 22 and this is HARD!" Yet, we prayed together, hugged goodbye, and drove off to our next destination for some much needed family vacation time.


The next few days were filled with theme parks and literal roller coasters, finishing with a couple relaxing days at the beach.


Then we came home for two days, re-packed, and headed west to Texas for our niece's wedding. We arrived on Wednesday, August 29. I ran wedding errands with my sister-in-law, the mother of the bride all day Thursday. When we got back to her house that evening, I received a phone call from my dad, saying Grandma had passed away. I cried, but the overriding emotion was thankfulness to my merciful God for taking her while we were there in Texas, not waiting until we had returned to Tennessee. She's been missing Grandpa for 26 years, so it brought great comfort in knowing they were at long last together again. I pushed my grief to the back of my mind, so I could focus on helping with wedding details. We had wedding festivities all day Friday and Saturday, culminating in the beautiful wedding Saturday evening. I had left the house at 11 that morning and collapsed on the bed at 11:30 that night! What a fun time it was though!


Sunday we drove the two hours to Mart, which still reminds me of an old western town with the false-fronted stores on the main road. On the drive, I felt those emotions I'd pushed back coming to the surface. I coped by regaling my kids with stories of my childhood - much of which was spent at Grandma's. Many of these, they've heard thousands of times, yet they patiently listened and laughed at the appropriate places...some stories God brought to my memory, which I haven't thought of in years...

By the time we arrived at the funeral home, I once again had my emotions in check...until the moment I'd been dreading...

From the time I was a child and attended my first funeral, I have hated the tradition of viewing the body...I've never understood the need some people have to see it. I don't get the need to critique whether or not they "look good"...I believe with all my heart that Grandma's soul went straight to heaven in the blink of an eye and that she is there with Jesus, Grandpa, her parents and five siblings, and countless friends who went on before her...so yes, I was dreading the inevitable. Since our portion of the family was last to arrive, I called my brother to see which entrance we were supposed to use. My dad had told me to park around back with the other family cars, so Tim said he'd meet us at that door. The last time I was in that funeral home was 26 years ago when my grandpa died, and I'd forgotten that the "back door" was actually the one that led straight into the chapel area. As soon as he opened the door, there to the right was her casket. Oh boy. Might as well get it over with.  So, I tentatively approached it and saw someone who looked very much at peace, but her clothes were too perfect, her hair too coifed, her face too...something...

Then my eyes traveled down her arm to her hand. And that's when the dam burst. Those were my grandma's hands. Those were the hands that had seen more than their fair share of the hot Texas sun...the hands that flew over piano keys, starting out with How Great Thou Art and ending with Yes, Sir That's My Baby! Those were the hands that pulled countless weeds and showed me how to shell peas properly, singing silly songs the whole while! They hid rubber mice under pillows and napkins, and waved glow-in-the-dark owl keychains from the doorway when we were trying to settle down to sleep. Those hands patiently taught me to sew and crochet, dusted my shivering fresh-from-the-tub body with talcum powder, and held my face ever so gently to tell me goodnight. Those were the hands of the strongest yet gentlest woman I've ever known. Those were the hands of my grandma. And I wept.

The funeral was a very sweet tribute to the woman loved by so many. I was touched to see so many cousins and church members in attendance. Grandma had outlived all her peers, so it was sweet that so many people who love our family were there to show their support.

From there, we drove the short distance to Kirk, where Grandma was born and raised. She and Grandpa owned the general store when my dad was little and after Grandpa retired from the Texas Highway Department, he became the caretaker of that very cemetery. He and Grandma lived in the little white wooden house across the street. The house is still there, and I was thrilled to get to show it to my kids. It was such a magical place, where imaginations ran wild. Grandma spent 93 of her nearly 98 years in that little town. In fact, the only time she ever left the state of Texas was to visit me when I lived in Mississippi in the '90's!

Following the graveside service, my sister and her family, my brother and his family, and my family and I all went to my dad's house for supper, stories, and to look through old photos. 



We spent the night, then drove back to the DFW area to spend time with my mom and pick up Lily, who we'd left at my sis-in-law's. We spent one more night there, then drove the long road home the next morning.

We've been home 4 days now and I'm still trying to catch up on sleep! As I reflect on the events and emotions I've experienced the last few weeks, I realize that woven throughout the roller coaster, are bolts of love holding it all in place...through the joys and the sorrows...followed by more joys and more sorrows, it is love that holds it all together...the love of a merciful Father, Whose timing and plan are best...the love of a Savior, Who has experienced all the same emotions we do and Whose compassions fail not...the love of a Holy Spirit Who comforts like none other...

May the roller coaster of emotions cause me to turn to The One Who loves me most and Love Him in return. May the roller coaster cause me to rejoice with the one who rejoices and mourn with the one who morns. In other words...Love The One and love the one...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

We Will Go '12 Day 4 Details

Tuesday we were joined by a group of senior adults from Crossgates Baptist Church in Brandon, MS, which is the church we were members of when we lived there in the '90's. It was good seeing a few familiar faces!


I regret I didn't take many photos this day. I was simply too busy to stop! It was a good busy though, since we were helping neighbors find clothes in the clothes shed during their ministry time they call "Hands and Feet". Last year we helped organize the clothes and this year we got to help give them away. So fun! A big part of giving clothing or food is that we also give prayer and encouragement to those who come. The heart of WWG is to not only meet physical needs, but spiritual needs. 


After Hands and Feet, we went to prayer time at Peace House, led by Emily. The Holy Spirit made His presence known and it was a sweet time of resting in Him.


After lunch, we went to Love House to assist with giving canned goods away. Last year we helped organize the food pantry and this year we got to give the food away. We prayed with those who came for food. Unfortunately, the rain kept many away, but we had a pleasant afternoon of visiting with Emily and Lindsey on the front porch.
Nest girls loving on each other at Love House!

Saying goodbye to our new friends

If I had to sum up this year's time at WWG,
I'd say we got to put into practice what we learned last year.
That's one reason I'd encourage anyone considering going, to plan on returning at some point. We got to love, touch, and pray with the neighbors more.
Just keeping it real, but last year there were moments when I felt fear, but not this year.
This year I felt a new boldness. Last year I felt compassion,
but this year I truly felt love for these beautiful people.
Thank You, Lord for maturing me over the last year.
Thank You for the pruning that has brought forth fruit that will last.
Thank You for more opportunities to Love The One and love the one...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

WeWillGo '12 Day 3 Details

We arrived at WeWillGo at 9 a.m. Monday and met with Landrum and Roxanne, missionaries at WWG, and Lindsey, a summer intern from Mississippi College.


They shared their stories with us and we spent some time praying for them, then we went to work, picking up broken glass around the swingset and weeding flower beds on base 2.


After lunch, Meridith took us on a prophetic prayer walk around the neighborhood.
Sunday we met a sweet couple, Pam and David, who are trying to sell their house in the country, so they and their kids can move to WWG. Their house is on the other side of the garden and was our first stop on our walk.


Meridith encouraged us to look beyond what our eyes were seeing and to look with kingdom eyes, declaring what we saw.

One specific thing that was spoken was that it would be a house where young mothers could come for ministry on the front porch. Words and phrases I declared were Beauty for Ashes and Resurrection. Kathy (WWG volunteer) said many of the words we spoke were similar to words Pam and David had seen too, so it was very confirming of their vision for this house.
We continued on our walk, stopping to visit with and pray for neighbors who were braving the heat to sit on porches and visit with one another. Granted, many were drinking and doing who knows what, but still it struck me that these folks understand what living in community looks like. And once again, I was reminded that I don't even know half my neighbors' names.
I regret not getting many photos of the folks we met and prayed with, but I was visiting and praying with them too, and simply forgot I was the only one with a camera!  I did manage to snap this sweet shot of a cutie-pie who was thrilled to pose for a photo while some of our team prayed for her momma!
As we continued down the street, we turned down an alley lined on both sides with duplexes. There were a few ladies and children sitting outside munching on hot dogs and a treat I've never heard of before - Kool-aid soaked pickles!  Yes, you read that correctly, believe it or not!  Anyway, every time we'd see children, we'd stop to invite them to play on the new swingset at Resurrection House. As we visited with the ladies amidst a collection of empty liquor bottles strewn about the porches, we noticed a pretty young teenage girl come around the corner. She had a large safety pin attached to her shirt with bills of varying denominations stuck to it. When we asked her what that was all about, she said they were birthday gifts. Her name was Alexis and that day was her 14th birthday. She didn't live there, but had come to spend her special day with her grandma, who unfortunately had been called into work, so she was spending it with her aunties and her grandmother's friends, who basically were using it as an excuse to drink too much. Amy and the girls encircled her and prayed birthday blessings on her while I prayed with another lady, whose son was due to have surgery on July 12, my birthday...
When they finished praying for Alexis, Mary Grace said, "Oh! We need to sing Happy Birthday!", so we sang it loud and proud, but about halfway through, Alexis dissolved into tears. It was at that moment that we realized no one had even sung to her on her special day. What a simple way to love the one...what a good lesson for our girls to learn...something they take for granted was what God used to lavish His love on this beautiful girl on her special day. 
The girls suggested we make birthday cards for her when we returned to base, which we did. Unfortunately, when we returned with them, Alexis was gone, but her auntie promised to deliver them to her for us.

After our amazing encounter with Alexis, we thought we were headed back to base, but Meridith turned off the sidewalk and started down this "path", and when I say "path", I mean a weed and sticker infested, overgrown "jungle"...well...perhaps I exaggerate, but what you need to know is that Amy and I are both deathly afraid of snakes and when I looked at all that mess, I thought to myself, "There is NO WAY I am following her into THAT!" But I quickly realized I had two choices - follow Meridith or get left behind in a neighborhood it wouldn't be a good idea to get left behind in!
So, with each step, I said to myself, "Perfect love casts out fear, perfect love casts out fear..." Soon we came to a clearing and when I looked up, what I saw nearly took my breath away.
I was surrounded by "houses" or what used to be houses...really no more than frames and foundations left of some of them, each one with the remains of a pathway all leading to a central courtyard with a lamp post standing stall and proud, even in its dilapidated state. I said quietly to myself, "It's like wintertime in Narnia."
Meridith told us this was once a beautiful community where neighbors congregated in the courtyard living life together. Now it was a place of ruins and devastation...garbage piled up everywhere...one word came to mind - squaller...
And yet, a strange sense of peace settled on us as we stood there in that mess, and somehow it felt like we were standing on holy ground...
Meridith then shared with us a passage from Ezekiel that speaks of bringing life to the ruins. She then said something that literally brought chills...she (who hadn't heard what I had said earlier) said, "The first time I came here, I thought to myself, 'it's like winter in Narnia (GASP!) BUT Aslan's on the move'!"
She then asked us to look with kingdom eyes and speak out what we were seeing in the spirit...




We could see children laughing and playing! We could see bright, happy colored, clean houses, we could see life and community...
We sang the John  Waller song, Our God Reigns Here over that property, praying that soon it will become part of WeWillGo's ministry.
As we made our way through to the other side, we could see evidence of people having used these falling-down houses as shelter...one word - heartbreaking...
As we turned onto the street, Meridith pointed to the street sign:
She said she could almost hear Jesus' voice saying, "Bloom, church! There's only one way - MY way!"
I couldn't help but think of the Casting Crowns song that says
But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way

As we made our way back to base, we stopped and prayed with a few more neighbors and prayed over the few churches in the area...churches that keep their doors locked and windows boarded up all week, only opening long enough for a hurried service on Sunday mornings...we prayed for the Spirit to wake them up to the mission field ripe for harvest all around them...we also prayed it for ourselves...that we would wake up to the mission field here in suburbia, where people don't even realize they're living in their own kind of squaller...

This was my favorite day at WWG...a day of dreaming with God...a day of connecting with His people...a day of loving The One and loving the one...




Wednesday, June 20, 2012

WeWillGo '12 Day 2 Details

Sunday we ate lunch together at Victory House, joined by Emily, who shared some of her story with us. What an amazing young woman, who is chasing hard after God's heart...


At 1:00 we went to the worship pavilion to soak, worship, and pray in preparation for that afternoon's service. At 2:00, Meridith (missionary at WWG, who Brooke met at Harvest School last year and stayed with when she visited WWG in the fall) assigned us to prayer walk around the block before service began. Some of our team ended up praying with a man they are convinced is tormented by demons. While they ministered to him, Pat, Mary Grace, and I ended up walking to the end of the street.  As we walked, I reminded Mary Grace of some of the things she'd learned at church and Sunday School...how Jesus is the Light of the world and He lives in us and says WE are the light of the world...how where there is light, darkness cannot stay...how when we speak out loud in the authority of Jesus' name, it changes things in the atmosphere...so, Pat and I encouraged her to listen to God's voice as He directed us where to go and what to speak out. She led us to the cemetery across the street. She remembered that last year Mrs. Amy L had told us that sometimes people live in the graveyard if they can't find shelter anywhere, that it was a place of great darkness. Now any other little girl might have been frightened away by that, but not this one! She is a pint-sized prayer warrior! She marched right up to the fence and began declaring it as a place of life, light, and love! I told her afterward, I was going to make her a super-hero cape that said "PRAYER WARRIOR" on the back!


We turned and walked up another street, speaking out what we were sensing in the spirit to overcome what we were seeing in the natural, then we turned back toward base and got to the worship pavilion just in time for service to start.


Meridith encouraged everyone to sit next to someone they didn't know. I ended up next to a couple who I thought must be neighbors there, based on their appearance and strong body odors, but turns out they attend another church in the morning and come to WWG's service in the afternoon. What a good lesson for me to learn about not judging a book by its cover! 


Meagan preached the message from the parable of the bridesmaids who weren't ready for the bridegroom. She not only talked about it from the perspective of coming into a saving relationship with Jesus, but also about the importance of intimacy with Him once we've been saved. It was really good! I was so surprised later when I discovered she had never preached before!




After service, Landrum asked if there had been any updates from the Mozambique team, and since I'd received a few texts from Brooke, they asked me to share. 


After service, chairs were moved, tables were set up, and we served food to the neighbors. We didn't just serve them, though. We sat with them and fellowshipped with them. Now, God had to move me waaaay out of my comfort zone for this!  Not the eating part and not the sitting with them part, but small talk has always been a struggle for me. I like what's familiar. I like to talk about things I have in common with people...like if I had sat at a table with some ladies, I could have thought of things to talk about, like our kids, or something...but oh no...when I went through the line and looked up to where Mr. Bobby was motioning me to go, it was a table full of men. Men of all ages and one color - brown. So...here I am, this little white homeschooling mom from suburbia at a table full of African-American men from inner city Jackson!  I mean really! Are you getting the picture?!  God's sense of humor is sometimes downright hilarious!!


Anyway, I handed a plate to a gentleman, asking his name. He had a crooked smile and scars on his face I'm sure weren't caused by some sort of automobile accident if you know what I mean...he introduced himself as William. I told him my name and noticed he was wearing a University of Kentucky t-shirt. I personally don't really care about college sports rivalries, but living in a house full of boys and living in the southeastern USA, I do know how men enjoy ribbing one another over this sort of thing, so noticing Brett (our pastor who lived in KY for a few years and is a UK fan) standing nearby, I gave William a hard time about wearing a KY shirt, loudly enough for Brett to hear, so he joined in the conversation for a moment before moving on to visit with someone else at the other end of the table. I then introduced myself to a young man sitting to my left, who introduced himself as Robert. I shared with him that Robert was my son Blake's middle name. As we ate our lunch, I continued making attempts at conversation. The men were polite, answering my questions, but they never made an effort to keep the conversation going, so it was a bit awkward...


Later, as I reflected on our shared meal, and attempts at shared conversation, I wondered if there was anything I could have done differently or if I could have tried harder to connect at a deeper level...All I could do was ask God to bless my pitiful offering and make it somehow count for eternity...little did I know then that over the next two days, He would show me that my willingness to be used of Him, regardless of how uncomfortable it made me would indeed count for something.


Every single time we allow Him to stretch us, to mold us, to pour through us - whether through displays of mighty power or the simple act of giving fried chicken and feeble attempts at conversation, what we are really doing is simply noticing someone...the simple act of making eye contact...of asking someone's name...of handing them a cup of cold lemonade...every single time, we are communicating that he or she matters, and God thinks he or she was worth dying for. Thank You, Lord that all You ask for is a willing heart...willing to serve...willing to look foolish...willing to love the one...



WeWillGo '12 Day 1 Details

I finally have a few minutes to sit down and share details from our mission trip to WeWillGo Ministries in Jackson, MS. See previous posts for more photos.


Early Saturday afternoon Ned arrived, hauling a trailer with the swingset donated by Pat and her girls. He got to work right away setting it up. The rest of our team wasn't due to arrive til later that day, so I had spent the day at Karen's while she was at work. A couple hours before everyone else was to arrive, I decided to make myself useful and head to WWG in hopes to snap some photos as the swingset was being erected. When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find it already up! I did get to help clean it up a bit. I also met Meagan, one of WWG's missionaries as well as the McLelland family, a sweet family moving to WWG soon. Their kiddos were the first to get to play on the new swingset. I had fun visiting with their cute little 7 year old chatterbox, Merry.




She, her mom, Meagan, and I walked down the street to invite one of the neighbors, Alicia to bring her children to play on the swingset any time she wanted to.


On our way to Alicia's house, we passed a girl sitting on the porch railing of a house in much need of repair, as is the case with most houses down there. We said hi to her and she barely lifted her head in acknowledgement.


When we got to Alicia's, an older woman and man were sitting on the porch drinking beers, listening to music. The woman was on a cell phone. An adorable little boy was on his bike on the sidewalk. We asked the man if Alicia was home and he went inside to get her. She came out with a sweet baby girl on her hip. We introduced ourselves and invited her to bring the kids to play any time. We then asked if we could pray with her about anything. She said she'd just gotten out of jail and had been drinking again. She wanted to stop, so that's what we prayed. She extended her hands to us, so Meagan grabbed one and I grabbed the other, then I felt that precious baby's hands on top of mine as I held her momma's. Such a sweet moment. Meagan prayed for a supernatural detox, for her chains to be broken, for her to see herself as someone of value - as a dearly loved child of God...


She thanked us, and we started back for Restoration House.


On the way, we noticed the girl we'd said hi to on the way to Alicia's, still sitting on the porch railing, head bent over a notebook, writing. Again, we stopped and said hi. We asked her name. She barely looked up and faintly said, "Ashley". She looked like she was stoned, barely lifting her head, much less meeting us in the eye.


I noticed a stack of colored folders next to her on the porch and asked her what she was working on so intently. Suddenly a light came on in her eyes, she lifted her head, looked me in the eye, and shyly said, "I like to write stories." Meagan asked her what kind of stories, to which she replied, with a hint of a smile, "Sometimes funny, sometimes scary." I said, "I like funny, but not so much scary!" She grinned and said she also writes poetry. Meagan told her she also enjoyed writing and had minored in poetry in college. She told her where she lived and invited her to come down to visit some time.


I wondered how many people have just walked on by Ashley in her life, as if she didn't exist...we didn't get into any deep, spiritual conversations, in fact, we didn't even offer to pray with her...we simply stopped for the one. We simply noticed her. We simply showed her she mattered...


I found myself crying out in my spirit, "Oh Lord, show these beautiful girls their true value and worth...awaken their dreams...break the chains holding them back from fulfilling their destinies..."


When we got back to Restoration House, everyone sort of went their separate ways for a little while to attend to various duties, and Ned and I went to Victory House to put together a bunk bed.


Later the rest of our team arrived, Meagan and the McLelland's returned, along with another WWG missionary, Emily. We blessed the swingset, praying that it will be a place of joy and laughter, a place where kids can simply be kids...that God will use it as a place for His love to be shared...that it will be surrounded with angels, so there are no injuries while kids play on it...and other things He brought to mind...basically we dedicated it to be a tool of ministry.




Thank You, Lord for showing us how simple and practical it is to Love The One and love the one...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Texts from Mozambique

They may be short and sweet, but they are soothing to this momma's soul!
So far what I have gathered from these nuggets is that she has seen everyone she knows who is there...Brittney (daughter of a couple at our church who is at Harvest School), the LaRue's (Mama and Papa to many at Irish Nashville), the Wilcoxes (missionary family they met last year. Brooke delivered the violin to them), Jim and Twila (missionaries who live on Pemba base.), her friend Manuel (also met him last year)...Church service was INCREDIBLE Sunday! A Mozambiquan man made his way across the room to come to Brooke and began praying and prophesying over her in English she could understand. She didn't mention details, but said it was all amazing! Even more amazing, he said he'd never done anything like that before!! She has been to the beach and eaten ice cream, okra, and drank iced coffee (her favorite!)...Julie Meyer from IHOP is there and she prayed over Brooke...she got to hold babies in the baby house...pray with some of the widows...in the morning, they will go to Mieze to help with the goats, then it's on to the bush bush...she also reports that she is doing really really well...health is good...she is at peace...she is in a place where she can really intercede for her team, her family, and the missionaries...one thing she said made me laugh - she said she misses her brothers - there are more girls on the team this year, and she has gravitated toward Jonathan and Chris on the team, since she relates better to guys, having grown up as the only sister in a house full of boys!
Probably one of my favorite updates, though, would have to be that she met Heidi Baker face to face this time and Heidi held her in her arms. Brooke was so overcome by the presence of the Holy Spirit radiating through this woman that she couldn't stand up. It seems appropriate to end this post with that, since it was her teaching that God used to birth this blog in the first place...





WeWillGo '12 Day 4

Last year we sorted and organized clothes in the clothes closet. This year we helped neighbors find clothes. Last year we organized the food pantry. This year we gave neighbors bags of that food. In both instances, we had the privilege of praying with and loving on these precious folks...
We were so busy doing this all day, I didn't even stop to take photos til the end of the day.
I think the smiles say it all...
Girls hanging out at Love House

Saying goodbye to our new friends, Lindsey and Emily

Monday, June 11, 2012

WeWillGo '12 Days 2 & 3

Missionary Merideth May giving us instructions before Sunday service.

Prayer-walking in the neighborhood


We had the opportunity to pray with many neighbors along the way...

Narnia in Wintertime, but Aslan is on the move...


Dreaming and prophesying what will become of this property some day...

He will rebuild the ruins and devastation...




Worshipping with our WWG family

!!!

We made birthday cards for a sweet girl we met while prayer-walking. Her name is Alexis and she was 14. We prayed for her, then as we did the simple act of singing the happy birthday song to her, she dissolved into tears. It was one of the most touching things I've ever witnessed. Her "family" had used her birthday as an excuse to drink, but through our simple act of stopping for the one, she felt loved...



Meagan preached a wonderful message. We would have never guessed it was her first time!

Praying with summer intern Lindsey and missionary Roxanne


Praying with missionary Landrum (Married to Roxanne)

Cleaning up broken glass around playset

Weeding flower beds

Pam and David will be moving into this house some day to serve at WWG. We prayed and prophesied the kingdom come...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

WeWillGo '12 Day 1

The Nest (my church) began the first day of our mission trip by setting up a swingset donated by Pat and her girls. 


When we were here last year, one of the jobs we did was clean up the lot next to the Lancaster's house. There was lots of broken glass and debris. Pat had a God encounter in this lot that left her forever changed. When we arrived and they showed us where they wanted the swingset, we couldn't believe it...it was the exact spot where God had given Pat such revelation of His love and calling...it was holy ground.
Pat standing on holy ground last year
Pat praying over swingset on that same spot this year


And as if that wasn't enough, God had to go and show off just a little by placing a bird's nest in the perfect spot just above the swingset!