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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Overwhelmed and a Summer Quest

Hola! Me llamo Melissa y nessicito clase de Espanol, por favor!

This post is probably going to feel like it’s going in circles… hang with me? We’ll make some sense by the end!

OH MY HEAVENS! I am excited and overwhelmed all at the same time! It seems that I am inundated with lessons in giving everywhere I turn lately! There is a saying in the Christian world, “You can’t out give God.”

It is based on scripture from Luke 6:38 that says, “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.”

I started this post saying “Hello! My name is Melissa and I need Spanish classes, please!” because of the opportunity that we have to minister to the Hispanic population in our area and my overwhelming WANT and need to communicate with those that enter the clothes closet. Sometimes we have groups of people that come and we piece together a conversation so that they understand us and we understand them.

One thing that I love is their overwhelming  willingness to try. They want to learn English just as badly as I want to learn Spanish so they are very open and kind and they want to teach me… if I will teach them. They are willing to give of their time and their knowledge of the Spanish language and they want so much to do well.

This past Tuesday we were almost wiped out! We had so many people come into the clothing ministry that our outfits hanging on the walls were all gone and many, many clothes were given away. Once we closed for the day I felt like I had been through a whirlwind of just plain giving!! It was quite overwhelming and I wasn’t sure how Thursday would go since so many items were taken.

Remember that scripture above? Well, trust me! Today (Thursday) we had SO MANY DONATIONS that we could not stay on top of it all. The people of our church have been so willing to give and we’ve seen the exact principle that Jesus spoke of in Luke. We gave SO much away, but He brought SO, SO, SO much that we are, again, just completely overwhelmed.

The giving that we’ve seen has been on a church level. While the volunteers and I give of our time much of the giving comes from others and their willingness to give of their abundance to help others. It’s been a real challenge to me to begin to give more personally.

I have a friend who has set out to do a Random Act of Kindness each day. I have seen her posts on Facebook about giving cookies to firefighters with a note of thanks. She drove to a laundry mat and gave a random lady a roll of quarters to do her laundry that day. She also put a note of encouragement on the car of a coworker telling them that they are doing a great job along with other random acts. I have tried to imagine the overwhelming feeling of encouragement that those receiving the “Kindness” have felt, but I have also experienced first hand the overwhelming sense of satisfaction that I have received from giving in the clothing ministry. That sense of satisfaction needs to be passed on to my child.

This summer we are going on a quest. I am stealing my friend’s idea and we are adopting the Luke 6 scripture as our summer verse. We have already starting making a list of things that we are planning to do in order to get our eyes off of ourselves and we are going to be on the look out for people who need encouragement.

We do not have a lot of money to give, but what we will have is Summer time. Sometimes time is even more valuable and we need to make the most of it. I am praying that we overwhelm someone with love and that they might decide to follow Christ as a result. I can’t wait to see what God does!! He is JUST OVERWHELMING!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Makes My Heart Sing!!

 

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“O LORD, your are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” Isaiah 25:1

Yesterday this girl came home from school and told me that she had been in the regular classroom all day instead of going to her normal Special Ed class. She said, “Mom, I took 2 reading tests INDEPENDENTLY (yes, she used that word) and I made 100 on both.”

What she means is… I read a passage in the classroom where there were lots of kids moving around.I comprehended what I read and  I was able to read the test by myself and answer the questions correctly. No one read them to me to help me better comprehend it and no one had to read the answers aloud so that I could differentiate between the answers. I did it. BY myself.

Yesterday afternoon I was inside doing laundry. Suddenly the door from the garage opens and 5 children come into my kitchen asking for water to drink. She is at the back of the line of kids with the BIGGEST grin ever!!!

“Yeah mom! Me and my friends are thirsty!”

Usually, she is playing with one little boy next door. He was in the mix, but the rest were her peers. They were kids from down the street that she was playing with and interacting with socially and on her own.

I did not make her come in until dark. She ate dinner at her bed time. There was no way that I was stopping the joy that this kid felt as she had a day where she felt like every other kid.

My heart is overflowing with praise and gratitude to our God for hearing the prayers of this mom and for allowing me to see the progress and growth that she is gradually making. His faithfulness to love her and to help her grow deserves all praise!!

If you see me at church… and during the praise and worship… if I run a few laps around the sanctuary… don’t mind me. I just can hardly contain the praise!!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Organized Much?

 

MM900283213[1] This is how I feel lately! Well, this is how I feel that my organization is lately! It just feels like I have stuff everywhere!

Today over on Priscilla Shirer’s Blog (www.goingbeyond.com/blog) she talks about exactly what I am dealing with! I feel like I just need some sort of system.  Do you have a system?

What I’d love would be to have more organization on several different levels. I’d LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for my pantry to be so clean and organized.

Isn’t THIS lovely?!

While I do categorize things in my pantry (all breakfast foods on a shelf, all spices together, all coffees/beverages together, etc.) It just feels so cluttered at times.

I would also love, love, love to have our PAPERS organized. It just feels like we NEVER take the time to purge and we need to do that desperately!! There is an adorable blog called www.iheartorganizing.blogspot.com that I am going to use to help me get that under control. She has fun ideas and she uses colorful folders, etc to make it a little more enjoyable! (She also has some adorable print outs for home life that I plan to take advantage of, too!)

Another area that I’d love to organize is my meal schedule. Since I’ve been home from Africa my schedule has slowed down quite a bit. Other than preschool graduation getting under way and VBS starting up at church I have actually had a slower paced schedule for the last few weeks so meals have not been too bad. With summer approaching that trend will continue and I am looking forward to a little down time after a busy school year.

Once summer ends, however, that will be a WHOLE new ball game! With the Clothes Closet and work and church there’s plenty to do! I try hard to think of "what’s for dinner” at breakfast so that I can at LEAST have some idea of what I can prepare that night. I suppose I get in a rut, though. Here’s a typical week for us, though they are not always in the same order.

Spaghetti (or some type of pasta)

pork chops (sometimes baked, sometimes fried, sometimes grilled)

chicken of some sort or a kind of chicken dish (casserole, pot pie, etc.)

sometimes Mexican

Sometimes fish (baked or pan fried talapia usually)

I just need some variety!! I need a meal plan where I can work on my grocery list and try to have ideas so that we mix it up and each week has some variety. It’s just easy to do what’s…. easy!

So, what about you? Do you have a meal plan, a really organized pantry or papers that are just right where they need to be? And will you share you ideas?

Perhaps these will be my summer projects and I will let you know when (and if) I make progress!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Eaves Dropping

Yesterday at the Clothes Closet I walked after teaching that morning. Another volunteer was taking care of the Closet and as I walked in I heard a conversation between her and a shopper. They were talking about how the shopper had asked Jesus into her heart after a life of drinking, drugs and some jail time. She was sharing about her husband, too and how he had asked Jesus into his heart first and how they had relied on the Lord for meeting their needs with finances and a job. She talked about allowing God to be in complete control and trusting Him to make a difference when things seemed hopeless.

I remained silent because they were really sharing and the volunteer was encouraging her to stay the course and to continue in her walk with the Lord. You could hear them throughout the store as they talked and I didn’t want to interrupt.

While I stood there listening I noticed another shopper on the other side of the store. I realized that this lady was someone I knew. I knew her son and I knew that her story was VERY similar to the woman’s who was sharing. She, too, had been in jail. There was a history of drinking and drugs… the only difference? This woman has not yet fully trusted Jesus to be her LORD. If you ask her she will tell you that she is “saved.” I can not judge someone else’s heart, but I do know that she is not FULLY allowing Him to take care of her and her child. She is still trying to "fix things” and there’s not a lot of trust.

As I continued to stand there the Lord whispered to me, “I ordained this.”

It became very apparent to me that these two ladies were in the store at the same time so that the one lady (who HAS made Jesus Lord) could share her story and the other lady could hear it.

See, I can tell her ALLLLL day long about God providing for me, but I have not been where she’s been. I have not had drugs and alcohol and abuse in my past. I have not lived in a shelter and been afraid of what my future holds for me and my child.  But THIS lady? Oh well, her story is the same, and by her sharing about His amazing provision and love for her since coming out of that life style…. well, now THAT was speaking volumes.

Once the lady (that was listening) left I told the one that was talking that God had just used her in the life of someone else and she NEVER knew it was happening. I explained a little of the story and she just stood there with tears streaming down her face.

We have to be so careful, don’t we!? We never know who is listening and we never know what kind of impact our words can have on the life of another. We never know who is eaves dropping!!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

“Living Sent” Laughter

Before leaving for Africa I had to take some time off from the Clothes Closet to prepare for my trip. I was also away (of course) while I was in Africa so I have not had much time in the Clothes Closet for a little over a month! Today was my day!! I was so excited to go back and on my drive into the church I prayed that the Lord would show up in a BIG way for someone today.

He did not disappoint.

Two young ladies came in together today. They are both in their 20’s and  are both already single moms with multiple children each.

I got them registered and they began to shop. I heard them talking.

“Hey, this might be good for graduation.”

“Yeah, or maybe this?”

One of them turned to me and said, “We are graduating Friday. We have been taking a class at this place (and she named it) where they teach job skills. We have been learning about talking to people and making a good impression and how to interview for jobs. We have to be dressed professionally and we are really excited! We met in the class and we are supporting each other as we try to get our lives straight. We HAVE to do this for our children. We HAVE to turn our lives around and be the example for our kids that we are suppose to be.”

I told them that that sounded great and to take all the time that they needed.

Sure enough. The girls only shopped for dress pants, dressy tops and skirts. They kept talking about how they had no money to buy the appropriate clothing but that they really wanted jobs and they wanted to be out from under the government aid that they both received. I was so amazed!!!

As the girls shopped The Lord reminded me of 2 purses that had been donated in September when we opened. We had never put them out because we were not sure how to make it fair for all shoppers considering that these purses were COACH bags. One was brown and a smaller bag and one was a bigger black bag and they were very nice and were in terrific shape.

We bagged their clothing items and they were so excited. I stopped them before they left and I asked, “Do you have a church? We’d love for you to come here! We have a place for your children and for you! And if you are REALLY trying to get things on track the Lord will just love you through that here!”  They said they would consider coming and I gave them church information.

Then I asked, “Are you SERIOUS that you are going to graduate on Friday? Are you SERIOUS that you are going to look for jobs and that you are going to continue to work to make your lives better for your kids?”

“YES! We have come too far to turn back! We will bring you our diplomas so you can see that we did it! Yes!! We are serious!!”

I told them to wait for me while I went to the back. As I walked back to get the purses I prayed that they would not both want the bigger black bag. I just waned them to be excited and love what they were about to receive.

I walked to the front and I said, “Happy Graduation!”

I wish I could describe what happened next!! They both started jumping up and down and crying. “Are you kidding me!? Oh my gosh! Are you kidding?!?” And they hugged me… at the same time! One on my back and one on my front… they hugged me and laughed and cried and laughed and laughed… “We can not believe it! Are you serious?!”

I stopped them and I prayed with them. We prayed for their jobs and their children and their graduation to be the example that they pray that it will be to their families. I explained that I did not give them the purses but that someone had donated them and that I was waiting on the Lord to prompt me as to who He would have them go to. They just hugged me and hugged me with tears in their eyes… and again… the Lord did not disappoint.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Faces of Africa

PicMonkey Collage

“But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat or drink, nor be worried…..”

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“… for all of the nations of the world seek after these things and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom and these things will be added to you.”

Luke 12:28-30

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Fun Side of Africa

There were so many lessons that I learned in Africa. So many things made me sad and challenged me to get outside of myself more to help those in need.

There were lots of things though that were so fun for us to see and it was amazing to see lives lived so differently than ours here in the States.

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This is a well that is covered with boards (to the left) and a galvanized bucket with a rope attached. They’d throw the bucket into the well to get clean water and use the gray tub to wash dishes. The dishes are drying in the sun. This is in the church yard.

Anyone need eggs? The yokes are orange.

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No need for a car seat or carrier. Just put your baby on your back and they will sleep just fine.

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The missionaries have become REALLY good drivers. There are no traffic laws really. You just hop in on the passenger’s side, get on the left side of the road and try not to hit anyone… by anyone I mean car or person… or goat. Africa 067

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The women in Africa wear skirts called capulanas. They are basically a piece of material that they wrap around themselves and are very strategic at making them tight so that they will stay on without buttons, zippers or pins. They don’t even tie them on. We tried SO hard to do it on our own.

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and some even wore pieces on their heads…

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and sometimes we just needed a little help…

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This, my friends, is A potty. It is in the bush of Africa. I say “A” potty because the one on the left is for #1 and the one on the right is for #2. Basically the one for #1 is a litter box. The one for #2 is a hole in the ground.

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MOVING ON….

The way that you make flour in the bush is to pound it out. Using a long stick and a bowl on a stand (picture a large version of a pharmaceutical mortar pestle) you pound away to a rhythm. These ladies had some GUNS for arms! My word!! 

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The people were VERY surprised to learn that in the US we never carry things on our heads. They said that this is how they were raised and all that they knew. They can carry ANYTHING!!!! From a bundle of tree branches, to water in buckets, to a simple sugar cane stick… they carried it ALL. The biggest thing I saw on someone’s head was… a mattress.

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Oh… and the yellow sign? It’s for cell phone carriers. You need a cell phone? They can hook you up!

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Truly, it was a wonderful trip. I would go back one day, but I would want my husband to be with me. It is a hard trip, but we were thrilled to see so many kids attend VBS and over 120 children state that they wanted to follow Christ.

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Things You Take Away From Africa

I can not believe it’s been almost a week since I returned from our mission trip. It has honestly been one hard week of processing and jet lag recovery. So many people have asked me, “Well? How was it? Did you have a good time?” My response has been…”Ummm, I guess? Let’s just say it’s overwhelming in many ways.”

Clothing auction on the side of the road in Nacala, Mozambique.

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Now, do not get me wrong. There was the amazing team of people that worked together to make this trip so great and we helped one another by experiencing it all together!

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It’s just that all that I have taken away from such an experience has made me more aware of ALL of my greediness, selfishness and the fact that I am just one spoiled American!

Seriously? How many drinks do two women need at one meal sitting on the airplane?

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I suppose that some of what I have seriously taken is this:

I live in a privileged place in this world that I honestly take for granted every day.

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I have clean water and food to eat and I have it in abundance.

My husband loves me and we have a child that we cherish and want to see grow in the Lord and in life.

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We have a church that loves the Lord and we live in a place where we are safe and free to worship there. Some places in the world do not have such luxury.

Entrance to the church in Nacala, Mozambique where the gospel was shared and children came to relationship with Christ.

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So much of what I have taken away I can not put into words. It reaches into my family, my marriage and into my very being.

One thing I know for sure: Being in God’s will and telling others about Him and His grace have been a turning point in my life and I will never be the same. Oh, I pray… I will never be the same.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

How Will They Know?

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“Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations…”  Matthew 28:19

The emotions are still so strong and my heart so burdened that it is hard to share in some ways. Many things roll around in my heart and mind and while there were many smiles, laughs and bright spots the facts are that there are children across the world who need to know our Savior and only a few to tell them.

Please, pray.

Please, obey the command to go.

Please, share His truths with those around us in our own towns, cities and in our own country.

People are dying and going to hell because of our lack of obedience. They have no hope without a Savior and we have a responsibility to tell them that He IS life!

How will they know if we don’t tell them?