Do Something

I’ve spent the week working as a crew chief at a Christian youth service camp, Camp Habitat. A coworker asked me, “Are you ever going to do nothing?” My off the cuff reply was, “I’m looking forward to that day.” But I immediately regretted my thoughtless remark because I know that if I’m doing nothing, it will be because I am physically unable. I am thankful for my health and ability to serve.

Many people have disabilities and feel they can’t help. But the volunteers at Camp Habitat proved that most of us can do something. Two members of our Camp Operations staff were on oxygen, and another two have physical disabilities that require them to use a walker. In the weeks leading up to Camp Habitat, they made phone calls to recruit volunteers, solicited donations, and assembled first aid kits. During the camp, they monitored who entered and exited the building and gave minor first aid. If we arrived at a job site and needed additional supplies, all we had to do was call Camp Ops., and they would send someone with the requested item(s).

11048763_870409803013109_2618592520594155442_n

I learned that one of our crew chiefs had to take the morning off for a dialysis appointment. Roy doesn’t make a big deal about his condition. When I asked him about his condition, he said, “When I was diagnosed with this illness, I was given a life sentence, not a death sentence. I decided to live my life each day to the best of my ability.” I appreciate Roy giving me permission to share his comments with you. In the picture below, Roy is the gentleman standing in the back wearing the green t-shirt. He and his crew repaired the steps for this homeowner.

10985176_870880202966069_7650861348851774200_n

I pray I can appreciate each day, regardless of my circumstances, with the grace that Roy demonstrates daily. Anyone who spends any amount of time with Roy will see that Jesus Christ lives in his heart.

I’ve served with Camp Habitat for the past five years with each of the volunteers below and hope to be able to continue this activity. At the age of fifty-four, I was the youngest crew chief. I was blessed to be able to serve with Roy and other senior adults who could be home enjoying retirement and doing nothing. Instead, they’ve seen the value of living life to the best of their ability and serving others.

five_year

Camp Habitat has a different theme each year and this year’s the motto was, Do Something. And the kids and volunteers lived up to the motto. There were eight crews comprised of four teens and one adult leader. We worked on projects such as painting, cleaning gutters, trimming shrubs, cleaning aluminum siding, caulking windows, building handrails, repairing steps, and washing windows. These eight crews worked on thirty-five home sites in our community and completed seventy-eight projects. The most important thing we did for each homeowner was to pray with them, and many of them prayed for us. I received blessings and more blessings.

I am thankful for the health and ability to participate in Camp Habitat. The homeowners were a joy to meet, the youth gave me hope for the future of our community, and the other volunteers inspired me to serve to the best of my ability. Each of us has a gift to offer, but if we don’t use our talents, sometimes we lose them. Please don’t squander your gifts. Look around and seek opportunities to “do something,” and you will be blessed.

#camphabitat #habitatforhumanity

10869739_693100767465140_8885974338801425992_o

 

Be An Answer to Prayer

This week I’ll be working as a crew chief at a Christian youth service camp, Camp Habitat. http://hfh-ky-simp.huterra.com/content/camp-habitat.

CampHabitat

I am thankful to have been a part of Camp Habitat from the very beginning, five years ago. God inspired my sister to dream of Camp Habitat after she spent a week with World Changers. http://www.lifeway.com/worldchangers/.

The major difference between Camp Habitat and World Changers is that the youth don’t travel to distant communities to work on projects. Instead, they camp at our local high school campus.

995811_10200202221873888_268913672_n

I’ll never forget the first elderly couple my crew served five years ago. We cleaned gutters and scrubbed the white vinyl siding on their home. As we loaded our equipment to leave, I looked at my ‘to do’ list and realized I hadn’t prayed with them. As we gathered to pray, the homeowner asked me if he could pray for us first. I’ll never forget the first words of his prayer. Thank you, Father, for answered prayer. I don’t know if I’d ever been an answer to someone’s prayer.

Please pray for me this week. Pray that that the youth will see the hands of Jesus in me. Pray that I will be physically able to complete the task assigned in the heat of the day with a smile on my face. Pray that I will have patience with unskilled workers. Pray God will protect each volunteer and their families. Pray that those who do not know Jesus will come to know him and accept Him into their hearts.

My prayer for you this week is that God will allow you will be an answer to someone’s prayer.

 1016661_10200204107361024_1824976073_n

“But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James: 2:18

“Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” James 2:20

10869739_693100767465140_8885974338801425992_o

#camphabitat #habitatforhumanity #missions #dosomething #answertoprayer

 

 

 

 

Can I Trust Jesus with Bertie?

 

It’s been a week of peaks and valleys, and it’s only Thursday. We closed our VBS service last night on a high note, and then I returned home to find out my beloved Bertie is missing. Bertie showed up on our doorstep three years ago, flea infested, and severely malnourished. I posted flyers in our community, but no one claimed him. After an expensive treatment by the Veterinarian and weeks of tender care, Bertie turned into a beautiful little fur ball.

 

Bertie

Last August, my husband was working the garden, and Bertie wandered to a neighbor’s house about a mile down the road. That was the first place I visited last night. They hadn’t seen the little rascal, but they were kind enough to call other neighbors and travel down our road on their four-wheeler. I am thankful for good neighbors.

I’ve posted a notice on Facebook, and we are distributing flyers. That’s all I can do. As I was trying to go to sleep last night, I remembered my closing comments to the children at VBS. I reminded them that sometimes our lives get chaotic, and we face challenges, but we have to trust Jesus with everything, no matter what.

So now it’s time to “walk the talk.” I’m going to trust Jesus with Bertie. I’ve asked God to watch over my little dog. It’s a mystery to me, but not to Him. If someone took Bertie, I pray that the Lord will convict their heart to return him. If Bertie has wandered off, I pray that he will find his way home. Maybe there’s someone who needs Bertie more than I. If something terrible happened to him, I believe that all dogs go to heaven.

I wonder if this is how God feels, bruised and hurting, when we wander from the fold.  I’m sorry for the times I’ve let Him down. I’m thankful that God sent his Son, Jesus, to save me from my sins. I trust Jesus with everything, and I hope you do too.

 

 

Thank you Prayer Warriors

Thank you to those who prayed for me last month. A staff member commented that she’d noticed a difference in my behavior within the last two weeks. It was almost as if I didn’t have a care in the world when she knew I had many issues calling for my attention.

I felt overwhelmed on the last day of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers’ Conference. A very successful Kentucky author, Ann Gabhart, placed her hand on my shoulder and said, “Be still.” I am grateful for her wise words. In my frantic pace, I hadn’t taken the time to read my Bible and pray that morning. I felt foolish because I know that if I turn my worries over to God,  I can face the day with grace.

ANNGABHART(1)

While at the writers’ conference last month, I signed a contract with Books and Such Literary Agency. Mary Keeley is my literary agent. For someone who started taking writing seriously only three years ago, this is a miracle. Two years ago, Mary saw something she liked in my work, and she took the time to suggest changes in the manuscript when she could have simply said, “No Thank you.” I listened to Mary’s advice and put in countless hours to improve my writing. The road to publication is long, but signing with Books & Such Literary Agency is a major accomplishment and I am grateful.

MARY_SHELIA
Thanks to the support of my church family, our Kenya mission team raised the funds we need for our trip. Thanks to the Friends of the Library, we had a successful used book sale. Thanks to my library staff, we had a successful petition drive to collect the signatures of 3,867 voters. God has blessed me with wonderful resources. He answered your prayers for me.

I’m not the only one who has busy days, and I feel a little selfish calling on my prayer warriors when there are so many who are facing more difficult situations. My struggles have been nothing compared to the storms friends have faced.

  • An old high school friend with whom I only see on Facebook lost her husband last month.
  • Another classmate lost his battle with cancer.
  • A friend suffered a stroke and spent her last days at a hospice.
  • A storm hit during Relay for Life, and a volunteer suffered a broken hip.
  • A young man from Haiti faced a second surgery yesterday at Vanderbilt. A volunteer from my community has worked tirelessly to arrange free treatment for Remulson.

Remulson

Please keep my friends and their families in your prayers.

Sometimes we face seasons of storms, and we feel overwhelmed. If you are experiencing stress, I urge you to follow Ann’s advice. “Be still,” and pray the prayer that never fails. “Thy will be done.”

 

#answeredprayers #thankyouprayerwarriors #bestill

How to Survive Storms and Thorns

We all face seasons of storms and thorns. My mother died unexpectedly in 2003, and her funeral was the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. I attended Daddy’s funeral on that same holiday in 2004. He was laughing one day, gone the next. All three of my siblings experienced serious health issues during this season of loss. I was terrified I would lose them too.

mom_daddy
I was reading scripture and ran across, Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV. My face grew warm, my stomach churned, and a rage consumed me. I was acting like a child having a temper tantrum. It humbled me to discover the shallowness of my faith.

THe feet of a young woman as she is standing on the beach

On the weekend preceding Memorial Day in 2005, I was with my sister who was recovering from breast cancer and said, “If no one I love dies this week, I’m going to say, ‘Thank you, Jesus’.”  After two consecutive years of mourning, I faced the holiday with anxiety.

The loss I endured that week was my career. The CEO of the company where I worked informed me that the decision has been made to outsource my department, and my services were no longer needed. I was numb, crushed, and heartbroken. What had I done to cause this calamity? I’m ashamed to say I couldn’t force the words, “Thank you, Jesus” out of my mouth.

I recognize the summer of 2005 as a turning point. With no career, I was available to help with Vacation Bible School (VBS). The theme Bible verse was Deuteronomy: 6:5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. It was embedded in every story and song. On the Friday following VBS, we loaded our car and headed for the beach. On Sunday morning, we rushed to the Baptist church and realized we had missed the service. People were just walking out, but they pointed across the street to the Methodist church. We jogged across the street and found a seat. As I stared toward the front, the verse being projected behind the pastor caused me catch my breath. Deuteronomy 6:5.

I felt a chill, and every hair stood on end. I’d sang and read this verse over and over during the past week, but I hadn’t taken the time to consider the scripture.

I spoke to my minister when I returned home and asked, “What do you think God is trying to tell me?”

He frowned. “Sometimes scripture is difficult to understand, but this verse is clear.”

I still didn’t understand.

“God wants you to love him with all your heart…”

“But I do love him.” And then I remembered my rants, the angry outbursts, and my bitterness over losing my parents, the worry for my siblings, and my disappointment in losing my job.

After much introspection, I came to the understanding that God wants me to love him, unconditionally. God doesn’t owe me anything. Even though I was an adult, my personal relationship with God was shallow. I’d counted on Mom to be my prayer warrior instead of trusting in Jesus.

I discovered that to be able to trust Jesus you must spend time in scripture and prayer.

Dollarphotoclub_2822757 (1)

God is so good. All three siblings recovered from their illnesses. He provided a wonderful position for me as the director of a small-town library. Books have always been something I love, and three years ago I started writing. This week, on the Tuesday before Memorial Day, something amazing happened. An agent with one of the most prestigious literary management companies in the nation offered me a contract. My life has not been perfect, but I can have perfect peace if I trust Jesus.

Today I’m on the mountain top, but I know there will be valleys to pass. I pray that I learned my lesson and abide in faith, hope and love, so no storm nor thorn will not break me.

ciel apres l'orage

 

#nostormnorthorn #abideinfaithhopeandlove #memorialday

Calling All Prayer Warriors!

I’ve had a tough few weeks with more irons in the fire than I can effectively handle. But what should I give up? My mission work? Serving my home church? My job? Serving my family? Serving my home community? Serving my work community? I’ve also been plagued by jealousy, which makes me feel underserving of God’s blessings. Who am I to share the gospel when I’m such a sinner?

I’ve felt overwhelmed to the point of sleepless nights, tossing and turning, and worrying about a hundred things over which I have no control. I’m scheduled to attend a writers’ conference next week, and I’ve thought about cancelling my trip. I’ve allowed Satan to discourage me.

Dollarphotoclub_64522364

On Thursday morning, I threw in the towel and turned everything over to God. Last night I slept through the night, and for the first time in days, I feel refreshed. Thank you Jesus!

A lovely friend and sister in Christ suffered a stroke last week and has been transferred to Hospice. Please pray for her and those who love her.

One of my coworkers faced a terrible health scare. Yesterday she received fantastic news from the doctor. Thank you, Jesus! I am grateful for her demonstration of faith as her prayer has been, “May God’s will be done and may he give me the strength to bear it.”

The Kenya mission team is hosting a fish fry tonight to raise funds for our trip. Please pray that God will provide the funds we need. Please pray that our team will be obedient and that God will prepare us. Please pray that God will soften the hearts of the unbelievers we meet in Kenya.

Dollarphotoclub_22259298 (1)

Early last week I learned that one of our team members may have to pull out of the trip. Yesterday, another person said they would love to take his spot. Please pray that God will pave the way for whoever is supposed to be on this team.

Dollarphotoclub_63896498

I’m going to stick with my original plan and attend the writers’ conference. Please pray that I will be able to concentrate so that I can improve my writing skills and that my work will glorify God.

Thank you for your prayers and support. I have faith that great things will happen because I believe in the power of prayer. I’ll give you an update next week.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1Timothy 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people –

Bible Group Praying Together

 

#thepowerofprayer #prayforoneanother #prayforafricanmissions #africamissions

Would You Be A Bold Witness?

A stranger stood in front of me at an event and ranted, “You should be fired!” She shouted.

Dollarphotoclub_72601472

My jaw dropped. When she stopped spewing venom, I asked, “What services are we not offering that you’d like to see.”

She stepped back and scorched me with a hateful look. “It’s not my job to do your job.” And she stomped off.

I have talented and trained staff, so I’m accustomed to receiving compliments. The tirade from this angry citizen stunned me.

A friend said, “Forget it. You know it’s not true.”

I’ve been burdened by this furious lady all week. And finally, it hit me. What terrible things must have happened to her to fill her with such rage? It dawned on me that I should pray for her. “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

a woman is praying to god with hope

This experience made me consider, What is it like to live in a country where Christians are persecuted? I know my friend, Ibrahim, faces persecution on a daily basis and yet he continues to be a bold witness. I have to wonder if I would be an unflinching witness. I can’t be positive because I was shaken by the rant of one angry woman about my work performance.

I am thankful for this experience because it gave a splinter of glimpse of what it might be like for my brothers and sister living in countries that persecute Christians.

close up of hand of a prisoner grabbed the bars of the prison

Would you be a bold witness? Only God knows the answer.

#boldwitness #christianpersecution #prayforyourenemies

Kenya Mission Schedule

Many have asked me about the schedule for our Kenya mission trip, so I’ve written a rough outline of how we’ll spend our time. About five days will be spent travelling, three days on the mission field and two days resting or touring. There’s a reason the Tharaka are an unreached people group. It’s hard to reach them because of the terrain. See below a picture of the type of vehicle we’ll use to reach them.

africaabluetruck(3)

Thursday: Depart for Nashville Airport at 10:00 am.

Friday evening at 8:00 pm: Arrive Nairobi

Saturday: Orientation, shop for supplies and rest to recover from jet lag.

Sunday Morning: Depart at 7:00 A.M. and we hope to arrive at our campsite by early afternoon and set up camp. This is a picture of a typical camp site.

Africa_camping

Monday:  Door-to-Door visitation around the site where the missionaries and pastor hope to plant a new church.  We will visit homes and share “Creation to Christ,” the gospel, and invite neighbors to the activities of the next two days. We will form teams of a volunteer and national partner with translators.

Tuesday Morning: Vacation Bible School for the children; Afternoon: We’ll offer separate classes for the women and men.  Women’s topics:  women’s health classes and water purification. Men’s topics:  animal care and nutrition, and water purification. We’ll also share the gospel in these sessions in some way.

Wednesday Morning: Vacation Bible School for the children; Afternoon: Separate Classes for the Men and Women continued. Evening: We will show the Jesus film in the afternoon or evening and offer an invitation. At some point, we will have a celebration time with our Kenyan partners to thank each other and close our project of working together.  Depending on the schedule, it could be in the afternoon or early evening.

Thursday: Morning – Break Camp and travel to a lodge and national park. This is a picture of a room. Notice there are no walls.

elsa

Friday: Morning – Photo Game Drive. Afternoon – Return to Nairobi.

Saturday: Tour Nairobi and visit elephant orphanage and depart for the airport in the evening.

Arrive Home: Sunday evening.

It may seem to some that it’s too expensive to travel so far and only be able to spend three days on the mission field. However, I know that three days of camping, and working in a brutal environment is about all my aged body can withstand. I pray I can meet the challenge, but I know I’ll be exhausted. I wish I could spend a larger portion of my time in Kenya on the mission field, but I’m not physically able. This is what it takes to reach an un-reached people group and the price we have to pay to take the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Romans: 10:14-15
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believe? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “”How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’”

#notgoingtoAfrica #Africamission #Kenyamissions

Still Going to Kenya?

It’s not often I watch the news, so I was unaware of the attack on the students in Kenya when I entered church last Sunday morning. So the question, “Are you still going to Kenya?” caught me off guard.

“Of course,” I replied. “Why do you ask?”
“Have you seen the news?”
“No.”

My friend opened his phone and pulled up an article from USA Today telling me of the Al-Shabab gunmen killing 147 people at a University in Kenya on the previous Thursday.

I was stunned. The evil one had stolen my joy. I can tell you very little of what the minister said on Easter Sunday morning. My heart goes out to the Christian and Muslim families who lost loved ones. And I pray for the terrorist. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

I wish I could tell you that I didn’t consider cancelling our trip, but I did. After much prayer, I am happy to write that our team is holding fast to our plans because we know that many are living in darkness, and we have the light to share.

Dollarphotoclub_47437847

I know many consider me crazy to travel to a terrorist hot spot, but I know there is no place safe place in the world in its present fallen, sinful state until the prince of this world is driven out. Let us never forget that Jesus triumphed over Satan in His death and resurrection and that Jesus will have the final triumph. And so, I plan to follow Jesus, wherever that path may lead.

Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise.” 1 Corinthians 3:18.

Dollarphotoclub_63152432

 

Pack Light – Buy Local

If there’s one thing I’ve learned when planning a mission trip, it’s to pack light. On our first venture to Africa, we purchased everything we’d need for our Bible School in the U.S. This included: snacks, t-shirts to give away, crayons, coloring pages, etc. We used every ounce of the airline’s weight allowance (two – fifty lb. trunks per person.)

 

Pile of backpacks - backpacking concept isolated on white with clipping path

On the second trip, we visited purchased food for snacks, backpacks for orphans, and soccer jerseys in the local market. Purchasing items in Africa had seven benefits. 1) Less luggage to pack. 2) Less luggage to handle. 3) Less luggage to lose. 4) We boosted the local economy. 5) Prices were cheaper in Africa. 6) We gained a better understanding of the culture by visiting the local market. 7) The market gave us another venue to share the name of Jesus.

Wanda_Market

 

If you are planning a mission trip, check with your local contact and determine what is available to buy in the area market. I’ll never forget the look on the face of the young man who sold us the soccer jerseys in the Niamey market. His hands shook as we counted the money. We also gave him a $20.00 tip because he ran to different vendors to find the exact jersey’s we wanted. When we made the final transaction, the crowd around us applauded.

Market_boys

 

I pray that each of us who are physically able will answer the call to share the name of Jesus. Blessings are awaiting you.

market_girls

#Africanmission #nigermissions #niameymarket