Category Archives: Outreach

The Best Words the Heart Can Speak

A quote from William Paul Young, best-selling author of The Shack, reads “Don’t ever discount the wonder of your tears. They can be healing waters and a stream of joy. Sometimes they are the best words the heart can speak.” I love this quote! Reaching back into the depths of dark trials will certainly produce these tears. Being able to share with others how God has pulled you through the darkest days of the storms can spark hope for those who can identify with your trials. Speaking from your tears shows others your heart and can reveal to them a path forward by realizing the journey you have faced and overcome.

The Holy Spirit has been speaking to me these past couple weeks about sharing testimonies. With the recent publishing of our book, many have asked about the origins and seem interested in the story of how we came to make the decision to write the book. The main purpose of our book is to share our testimony with those who may be going through similar trials as those we have endured; to provide comfort and hope for them knowing they are not alone; and to lead them to the solution we have found – the amazing gift of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

God sends us messages all the time and if we tune in to listen carefully, it is amazing to realize just how meticulously He plants these messages around us. My husband and I experienced a series of events over the course of this week sensing a strong message from the Holy Spirit:

  • This past Saturday we attended a Pastoral anniversary celebration and were blessed to meet many people at this event who shared their testimonies freely. They were also very interested in hearing our testimony as well.
  • Sunday was overflowing with discussions throughout the day centered on sharing our personal testimony with the world.
  • On Monday we attended a Bible study where the facilitator told us an interesting story about the previous day’s service at his church. He shared with us a vision or thought that came to him from the Holy Spirit, and began to speak of a new effort in the church to capture testimonies of members of the congregation. His thought was to have them speak and document their stories. The focus of their message on that day was prompted by the scripture Luke 1:1-5 and documenting things for those to come after us.

Scripture: Luke 1:1-5 NIV: “1Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us,  2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”

  • On Tuesday, we had a planned dinner with my cousin and her family. We had not seen them for many years and had not even met some of her family members as of yet. It was truly a blessing to us. My cousin’s son is the creative pastor for a church in Maryland. He shared with us that their church has started capturing member testimonies on video, which they will play for the congregation in order to demonstrate how lives are being changed by and in the ministry. At that moment I thought to myself just how many times we have been Divinely led to all of these conversations this week about the sharing of testimonies! These are the “light bulb moments” as I like to call them. When you realize how much the Holy Spirit has been knocking on the door of your mind and you finally “get it.”

I’ve known for the past few years now that sharing our testimonies was important to God, but I don’t think I have realized the magnitude of this importance. The Holy Spirit is surely teaching me this week that sometimes these are the best words the heart can speak!

Publishing our book, It’s All Good, A Story about Faith, Family and Living With and Surviving Tough Addictions for all the world to read was not an easy thing to do. In this world most of us are hesitant to expose ourselves and our secrets. But as William Paul Young has said in a recent episode of Restoring The Shack, we were meant to be open and weak. Being exposed is a good thing. God did not design us to live a hidden life. William Paul Young also said secrets are huge and powerful when we keep them hidden among the darkness and lies. But when we let them out, they lose their power over us, and we experience a freedom like never before!

We all have testimonies to share, and many of us keep them buried deep inside. I began this story today with a quote from Paul Young, and I would like to end it with another: “You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” – William Paul Young, The Shack

My husband and I have discovered the sharing our testimony has truly set us free – it is an amazing feeling filled with relief and a peace we have never known. Do you have a testimony to share? Why not tell us about it in the comments below or share it with someone today. Reach for the best words the heart can speak. You, too will feel God’s amazing freedom and peace if you let the Holy Spirit guide you to do so today!

Feeling blessed!

You Can Have Superhero Powers

Have you ever felt like a superhero? After recently completing a six week Bible study session about the power of the Holy Spirit and starting a new session about everyday miracles, I am beginning to see just how much the Holy Spirit moves us to have the power to do things for others. You can have superhero powers …read on to see how you just might be someone’s miracle today.

Most all of us have prayed for a miracle in our lives at some point. When we pray for these miracles they are often for something we need God to do in our lives or in the life of a loved one. Have you ever prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide you through your day instead of only asking for miracles for yourself?

My husband and I have many instances we could write about where we have started off our day for one purpose, and the Holy Spirit has diverted us, moving us to stop and help someone on the side of the road for many reasons: to give a ride to someone who has needed to get to a medical appointment, to assist someone obviously struggling to get a tire changed or put air in their tires, to provide food for someone who was homeless or in need. There are many other things that I could list here, however, the point I’m trying to make is we ALL need to open our eyes every day as we go out into the world. We should be observant of those in need on our travels. The Holy Spirit helps us to do this if we pray for His guidance each morning and give Him control.

Bible verse John 16:5-16 tells us that Jesus had to go away so he could send the “Advocate” – the “Spirit of Truth” to help guide us all and 2 Timothy 1:6-7 says that He gives us the spirit of power, love and self-discipline. What an amazing gift He has given us! Each and every one of us has the power to be someone’s miracle if only we would allow the Holy Spirit to continually guide us in our efforts. We must let the Holy Spirit live in our hearts and penetrate to our core. We must let Him illuminate the words of scripture for us as only He can do. The Holy Spirit will help us in our weakness and He will be our strength.

Once we begin to allow the Holy Spirit to move in our hearts, His power in us will become contagious to those around us. If you never have prayed for guidance, I ask you to try trusting in the Holy Spirit and you will see what I mean. Once His spirit lives in your heart, you will begin to see those around you noticing a change in you and they will have a strong desire to have whatever it is that you have attained. Most will not be able to pinpoint this gift of the Holy Spirit in you, but it will shine through to those around you.

Remember as you set out today, you just might be someone’s miracle if you allow the Holy Spirit to give you His superhero powers!

Have a blessed day!

It’s All Good

Click here to go to Amazon to Purchase “It’s All Good!” in print or e-book

Our book, It’s All Good! A Story about Faith, Family and Living With and Surviving Tough Addictions, is now available on Amazon.com in print and e-book versions. Read on to learn how the Holy Spirit moved us to write this book for God’s glory.

In October of 2014 I began jotting down tidbits of stories in a file on my computer destined for a book. I had no real plan for how it would all come together. However, one Sunday morning, the Holy Spirit spoke to me about His plan for the book. I never knew how strongly the Holy Spirit could move an individual.  On Sunday January 25, 2015, Pastor Lawrence Williams delivered a sermon at Changed Lives Church about the Authority of our Words. He spoke of the Power that God has given us to our words. Scripture: Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Pastor Lawrence shared a personal testimony with the congregation that day. He spoke about his family being forced out of their home for 6 months due to broken water pipes and wiring not being up to code. He shared how difficult it was some days for a family of 4 to live out of a hotel room and continue to meet obligations of work, school, ministry and more. He said through all of this time, he maintained his strong FAITH and continued to show up to church each week with a smile on his face. All throughout this time he prayed and believed all would be well as if it were so already. Of course there was a wonderful blessing for their family after going through this trial. Their home was newly renovated once all was completed, blessing them with much more than they had ever asked for in prayer.

As he closed the story, my husband, Rich asked to speak. He told our Pastors and the congregation about his recollection of our Pastors coming to church throughout their trial. He commented on how they continued to meet the needs of the church. Rich said during that time he would ask Pastor Lawrence how he was doing, knowing it must have been a very difficult time. Pastor Lawrence’s response was often “It’s All Good.” Rich told the congregation, as he heard Pastor speak these words, he knew it couldn’t have been all good for his family throughout their difficult trail. Rich was amazed and impressed by Pastors’ powerful, inspiring and strong faith.

After Rich spoke that morning, Pastor Lawrence continued with a message to the congregation. He said if there are things we are praying for and they are not coming to be, possibly what we are praying for is not in God’s plan for us. Or possibly we are praying for things which are too small. Maybe God has a much greater plan for us. After the sermon, I thought of the words Rich spoke and what Pastor Lawrence had said. It was like a light bulb went off in my head. I had picked the name of our book long before I even put the first word on the page in October of 2014. I picked the name based on a plaque I had purchased for my husband about year prior. I believe that Sunday morning sermon, as well as Rich’s spoken contribution, was the result of the Holy Spirit moving them to bring a strong word direct from God to me. I felt God was pushing me to get busy finishing our book. The book is ironically titled “It’s All Good!” based on a saying written on the plaque which hangs in our kitchen. We so often have quoted it time and again since it was hung there in 2013. We purchased it soon after we first found Changed Lives Church, and accepted Jesus into our hearts.

I have prayed for so many things and people in my life and thankfully many of those prayers have been answered. However, the prayer I pray every day since coming to Changed Lives Church, is for us to be a blessing to someone “on this day.” I pray to be able to help someone in doing God’s work somehow “today.” I have started since Pastor’s sermon to pray now on a bigger scale. Pastor Lawrence helped me realize this book can be a much bigger blessing than I ever could have imagined. It could reach MANY who may not be crossing our paths on a single given day in our lives. It could be a blessing even after we have long gone from this world.

We pray others find our story inspiring and that it may spark hope for readers. We pray it and speak it as though it has already been such a blessing to MANY in Jesus’ name.  Amen!

Note: If you would like to purchase/read our book, follow the link to our Amazon page at the top of this post, and if it does inspire you, we ask you to consider leaving a review on the Amazon page to let others know.

Thanks to all our faithful blog readers!  God bless!

 

 

How a Motorcycle Ride Became a Blessing to a Sunday Service – Learning to Wait for the Lord

We must learn to trust God and wait on Him – for when we do, we learn that His timing is always perfect.  Today’s blog story actually began almost a year ago, but read on to see how the Divine diversions of the Holy Spirit moved us all for God’s glory in His timing to blossom just recently into a beautiful blessing.

Last fall, I was in the office of my place of employment one day assisting with the onboarding of a new team member, and asked him to tell me a little bit about his background. He reviewed his most recent work experience, and also gave me some information about his personal situation. He had been through some very difficult health trials in the past few years. He was praising God for bringing him through these difficult trials, and shared that he has been attending a Christian church in our area.  I found myself being Divinely diverted once again by the Holy Spirit, and I proceeded to tell talk about my Christian faith as well, explaining how my husband and I were first led by God to our home church. I began to sing praises of our Lord and how much He has blessed us through some very difficult trials. I also told him about our pastors, and how genuinely dedicated they are to spreading the word of Jesus Christ. During the course of the conversation, I offered him our church information card, inviting him to stop for a visit if ever in the area. Another one of our team members who was in the room providing training at the time, joined in the conversation and asked me why I had never given him a church card. I was abruptly stopped in my train of thought, finding it difficult for a few seconds to immediately respond. As I reflect back, I remember thinking about the reason why I hadn’t given the card to him, and being pleased to realize just how much my relationship with God has grown over the past 3 years. There was a time not so long ago, when I wouldn’t think to speak of my Christian faith in the work environment. It always seemed to be an expectation of others that the topic was somewhat taboo, or off limits in the corporate environment. The Holy Spirit has helped me grow and strengthen my relationship with God, so much so these past few years, helping me to realize how important it is to put Him at the center EVERY aspect of my life. I am thankful that I purposely share, speaking proudly and freely everywhere and anywhere I go about my Christian faith today.

So, when asked why I had never given a card to my other team member, I apologized and handed him one, inviting him and his wife to join us one day. Simply by sharing my Christian faith, I learned some things that day about my team member which I had never known, even though we worked on the same team for at least 5 years. He is a dedicated man of faith and has a powerful testimony about how he came to be saved in Christ Jesus. He also belongs to an evangelistic street ministry, routinely venturing into dangerous areas of the city streets. The members of his ministry reach out to those who are suffering from the chains of addiction, and they have helped many by sharing what Jesus has done for them. After speaking with him, I felt pretty confident that he would show up one day soon at one of our Sunday services.

Before long, weeks and months went by and there was no visit during that time. However, as I have learned by reading scripture, and my past experiences in life, it’s not our timing that is important, but instead God’s timing, which is always nothing short of perfect!

One Sunday morning not long ago, 3 motorcycles pulled up in the church building parking lot. To my surprise one of the riders was my team member, who had brought along 2 friends, all of them coming to worship with us on that Sunday morning. As my co-worker introduced his friends to me, one of them shared a brief testimony of his battle with addiction, and his desire and very recent efforts to come clean. As the service began, we took our seats, and experienced an awesome praise and worship service that morning. During the service, my co-worker’s friend gave his life to Christ and became a new Christian that day! We all praised God for allowing us to be part of such a powerful moment, and for using all of us for His great purpose!

A couple weeks later, the roar of motorcycles was heard once again outside our church building, as my co-worker and his friends came driving into the parking lot for another visit. This time he brought his wife along as well to join our praise and worship service. It was such a pleasure and a blessing to meet her and have them all share in our service. We enjoyed the fellowship with them and look forward to seeing them again one day soon at a future service.

Isn’t it amazing how God plans things out so far in advance using all of us like chess pieces, making such strategic moves to win the game for His glory every time? Do you have a similar story of how you may have had to wait on the Lord, and felt the diversion of the Holy Spirit for God’s glory? If so, please share it in the comments section. Thanks for visiting our blog, we hope you will be diverted back here again soon! Have a blessed day!

Scripture – King James Bible: Isaiah 40:31“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Blessed to be Chosen

In our weekly travels, we have met and come to know several local homeless friends, whom we routinely try to bless by providing a meal or a few hours of shelter from the weather. Even though it can be tough to find them at times, my husband feels the need to check on them to be sure they are OK during extreme temperatures. We feel God has chosen us to look after them and continue to reach out to others like them wherever we travel. We feel blessed to be chosen by God to be hands and feet on the ground doing these works. Read on to see how God turned the tables to instead bless us on one such outreach adventure.

My husband went looking for one particular friend who sleeps in his van outside of a local church building. When we arrived, he was not in his car. We noticed lights were on inside the church and figured they must be having a service, so we decided to venture inside to see if our friend was there. When we walked into the church sanctuary, we immediately realized the Pastor was speaking Spanish. We apologized for interrupting the service and were not going to stay since it was a Spanish service, but just then young couple rushed over to greet us. They were very friendly and welcomed us to the service. The young man suggested we sit with them, offering to translate for us. We sat down and the Pastor resumed the service. What a blessing it turned out to be for us and the Pastor as well. The message was truly one we felt was meant for us to hear. The Pastor told a story of how he was chosen to become a Pastor, but at first, didn’t really feel confident that he would be an effective Pastor. He told us about his journey and how he eventually came to know that pastoring was what he must do. He went on to point out examples from the Bible illustrating how God chose ordinary people who have a strong faith in Him. He told the story of the woman who only had a small amount of flour and oil – just enough to make one meal for herself and her son, but after being asked and providing bread for Elijah, she found the flour and oil was continually there to make more, as she trusted in God to provide what was needed. He told the story of Noah, and how he was asked by God to build an ark, how he built it in faith, while others did not believe. Instead they thought Noah was crazy, until after 120 years of mercy, the rains came and the others came knocking at the ark, but it was too late – God had closed the door on the ark.

Since the days of the ark, there have again been many, many years of God’s mercy for those who do not believe. Years that will come to an end one day. Those of us who know the truth, must reach out and show love, telling all we can about the greatest gift of all, Jesus Christ. We must be prepared when the day comes. Even though this message was coming to us in Spanish, which we do not speak or understand, God provided a translator for us and it was perfectly clear. His message reassured us that being called to do God’s work may seem a bit overwhelming, too challenging or not the right fit for us at first, but we must remember that we were chosen for God’s specific plan due to our strong faith in Him. The Pastor also was clear in stressing if you are so blessed to be chosen by God to do a work, you must not turn your back and walk away. For if you submit yourself to Him and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you, God will certainly provide for you all the days of your life. It is a blessing and an honor to be an ordinary person called to do extraordinary work for His glory.

 

Feeling blessed!

 

The Holy Spirit is Ever Present

It has been a few weeks since we posted our latest blog story. We have not written any new stories these past few weeks because our family has experienced a sad event, and sorrowful loss. Our hearts have been very heavy during this time, so we have been focusing on faith and family. While we have been going through these days wishing we could be geographically closer and more helpful to our grieving family during this time, our other family members and friends have been so dedicated to lifting us all in prayer for strength through this trial. We are grateful to all of our family and friends for their prayers… prayers which are being answered by God each day. Even though the documenting of the Divine diversion stories have taken a break on this website, the Holy Spirit is ever present and has been every week while the diversions continued throughout this time.

A couple Divine diversions in particular come instantly to mind when I begin to recall His presence. Last Thursday we had been invited to attend a gathering which we typically attend every year. We were getting ready to leave the house, when my husband seemed to be having a strong tugging on his heart to ride by and check on his homeless camp friends. After checking, he found one of them to be at the camp and began a conversation with him, during which it seemed obvious that he was somewhat depressed. My husband made a decision to bring him to our house to get him out of the weather for a bit and give him something to eat. This visit pushed our attendance to the annual gathering back by a couple hours, however, we both agree that this was what God wanted us to do on that evening in order to show love, and help provide for someone less fortunate than us, even if just for a short while. Our visitor stayed for a couple hours and was very grateful for the visit. He could not thank us enough, and we felt blessed to be able to provide a Divine diversion for him as well that evening.

On a second occurrence just the other day, we left the house about 3:30pm to take a quick drive to the post office to mail several bills. I expected to be gone for 30 minutes or less. We were however Divinely diverted when, after going to the post office, my husband decided to drive past the local fast food restaurant to see if any of his homeless friends might be there. It was extremely cold outside and he was concerned for them. As it turned out there were a few of his camp friends there. We offered to buy food for them, and bought them some hot drinks. My husband sparked a conversation with a man, who told him he was trying to stay warm waiting in the fast food restaurant. He was watching for the time when the bus from a local organization was scheduled to arrive to the parking area to pick-up folks and take them to a church sponsored dinner. He feared, however, that he missed the bus and would not make it to the church for the meal. We had made a previous commitment to pick-up one of our sisters in Christ who was joining us at a prayer meeting that evening. If we opted to drive this man to the dinner at the hosting church in a total opposite direction, we would be cutting it very close. We had a decision to make, however, after considering the temperature outside at 11 degrees and a wind-chill of about 3 degrees or less, it was an easy decision to make, knowing this man would have an opportunity to be out of the weather for several hours and would be served a warm meal. So we drove him to the church, making sure he was safe inside where the meal was being served, then headed back to our pick-up and prayer meeting and we made it there just in time.

Being Divinely diverted from our plans to return home, left us with a hectic schedule to make it to the prayer meeting without dinner, however, unlike our homeless camp friends, we knew we would be able to get something to eat when we left the prayer meeting. Unfortunately, most times they never know where or when they will get their next meal. It is sad to think of them in the bitter temperatures struggling to survive every day with so much uncertainty.

Even though our efforts may seem small, we still find it amazing to realize that listening carefully for God’s voice and asking Him each day to fill us with the Holy Spirit for guidance results in moving so many of us where he needs us to be, just as chess pieces are moved so strategically, in order to execute a great plan. It is always such a blessing to us when we can look back on the day, knowing we are doing God’s work on this earth as He guides our steps in all of our Divine diversions.

We look forward to the many episodes to come and hope you may be able to see the blessings in your daily diversions as well. If you have a similar story, please comment and share it by clicking on the comment section below. Also, click to subscribe to our blog to be notified when new stories become available here on our website.

Feeling blessed!

Unwanted Items Equal Meals for the Needy

Today’s blog story was prompted by a visit to a local thrift store that serves as a fundraising venue for a mission which feeds homeless and needy families. I will explain how this Divine diversion came about for me in more detail below. If you have unwanted items that you plan to dispose of in your trash collection cycles, please consider that in God’s formula your unwanted items equal meals for the needy. Read on to see how this formula plays out.

I had been collecting some items to dispose of or donate to a local thrift store and planned to drop them off for quite some time. One recent morning, my husband decided he would take them to the local food bank and/or church outreach to see if they would take them. In the mean time, I was working at my job, and told him I had to drop off some Fed X shipments just before my lunch break. As it happened, both of the places he went to that morning were not open on this day to collect donations. He headed home and walked in the door just as I was about to head out to drop off my packages. I suggested that we take the items for donation to a thrift store we visited a few times before which collects donated items and sells them to fund a soup kitchen which provides meals for the homeless and families in need.

This surely was a Divine diversion because I only intended to drop off Fed X packages, but seemed to be diverted to the thrift shop. We went to drop off the items and as we began to talk to the nice young woman who works there, I said it was hard sometimes to decide if items should just be trashed or donated. She said “Do not trash them! Think of it like this: we can feed a person a meal at the mission for $1.97, so if I sell $20 worth of items, I am feeding a meal to 10 people! If I sell a set of furniture for $100 I am feeding a meal to 50 people!” This was an eye opener for us. My husband and I have donated items to this thrift shop in the past, but never realized they can feed a person a meal for $1.97. It also gives me a new perspective on those who are shopping at the store to buy items. It helps them get gently used items at a much discounted rate, while at the same time, feeding scores of needy people. They provide you with a receipt for the items you donated so you can use the donation as a tax deduction as well.

If you are cleaning out your closet or storage spaces, and find you have unwanted items, search for a thrift shop that funds a food shelter in your area. These stores and food missions are run by dedicated people who are doing the work of our amazing God. You can help with this Godly outreach by donating your items to them. When you do, you will feel blessed knowing that you are helping to feed many in need Why not bless and be blessed on purpose today?!

Priceless and Free Coffee Scoop

As the outreach coordinator for our church, I have been collecting food donations for the past month for our Thanksgiving food drive. Donations will assist a local community organization which provides help to families in need. Little did I know that this effort would lead to another Divine diversion that would help reveal the answer to a question which had long been on my mind – where can we find the homeless population in this area? I refer to today’s Divine diversion as the free coffee scoop – read on to find out more about how God led us to the answer.

My husband and I completed the scheduled drop off of the donated food drive items earlier this week, and while at the community center, asked if any of the folks there knew where homeless populations were living in the local areas. We explained that our church was interested in doing some outreach to help the homeless and those in need. The community center folks indicated they were not aware and suggested we check with a local police municipality.

As we walked out the door, my husband noticed a coffee shop across the street. He wanted to go in to get a coffee and I suggested that we travel back closer to home to visit a coffee shop that we had recently heard about from friends. He said he didn’t want to wait and wanted to check this one out instead. So we crossed the street and went inside the coffee shop. When we walked in the door, we could see that it was a small, quaint shop with a hometown feel. There were a handful of small tables and chairs, and two big leather chairs just inside of their storefront window. We ordered our coffee and sat in the leather chairs for a few minutes. It was clear to see that just about everyone who walked in the door was a regular customer and every one seemed to know the crowd well.

As we sat there listening to their stories, we found an interesting group of people who intertwined and meshed well together with individual life and daily schedules of their own. It didn’t take long for them to join us into their conversations. God seemed to pull us into this coffee shop, for we had been looking to get information about the homeless population and other organizations in the area that our church might be able to partner with for outreach efforts. Interestingly, the conversation was leading to just the information we had been looking to find. Before we knew it, we were talking about outreach efforts. The kind folks we had just met were able to tell us where we could find homeless living in this area just a short distance from the coffee shop. Getting this information was like receiving a gift, and will provide some of the men from our church the opportunity to scope out the areas, so we can plan an outreach event to feed them and hopefully provide for their spiritual needs.

During this coffee shop visit we also met a woman who is a recently recovered addict. My husband shared a bit about his testimony with her, and she shared some of her testimony as well. It is always inspiring to meet and talk to folks who have similar testimonies. I believe that God leads us to cross paths intentionally so we may all be inspired, blessed and committed to keeping a straight path forward. He has provided us these testimonies to share and spark hope in others, and we feel blessed that God allows us now to freely share our stories without hesitation.

We were also given an opportunity to post our blog cards there on the coffee shop bulletin board, and we hope that someone finds their way to our blog, possibly recognizing our story. If this is you, please know that we were truly blessed to meet you all in that amazing coffee shop. We thank you for your cordial greetings and for the information you so willingly shared with us.

For all the rest who may be reading this, if you are new to an area or reaching out and looking for information on just about anything, check out the local coffee shop, for it holds a treasure chest full of free and priceless information. You just may find when you walk in the door that God is working there for your good as well as the good of others.

Be blessed on purpose today!

Great Puzzle of Hope

God has a calling for us all and when we come together, each doing our own part, the powerful things that happen are truly amazing! It is, as my dear church friends describe, just like a jigsaw puzzle, and we are all pieces that come together beautifully for a common cause to fill in the gaps to complete and make things whole. I like to think of it as God’s great puzzle of hope. This story has been inspired by an outreach effort that began as a thought with one single zip-lock bag, and has blossomed into so many “bags of blessings” for a worthy cause! Read on for today’s inspiring story.

 

My husband and I are dedicated to outreach efforts to help the homeless and those in need living in our surrounding community. One of our sisters in Christ from our church has taken an idea of assembling plastic zip bags filled with some necessities to hand out to folks on the street, and given it to her students as an assignment for a recent school project. She is an awesome teacher, who desires to teach her students a valuable lesson in how to reach out and show love. They have been asked to fill these bags with necessities such as toiletries, hand warmers, gloves, snacks, etc. They have also been encouraged to include brief messages of hope in each bag as well. She calls them “blessing bags,” and it is truly a blessing to see the magnitude of what these children have done. They have collected boxes and boxes of blessing bags during the course of this project assignment.

 

Whenever we can, my husband and I routinely provide a meal for several of our camp friends who do not have a place to call home, nor a roof over their heads. Instead, they live in tents in a secluded area not far from us just off a main highway. It is a daily struggle for them to find food and necessities. At times we have taken them to get clothing or other needed items, as we have felt a calling by God to assist them. It seems that my husband and I are now being Divinely diverted from our normal outreach efforts to expand our thinking on a much broader scale. We are now including the blessing bags in other areas of the community to folks we might never have been able to help without them. It is so amazing how God is opening up doors and opportunities to bless so many more through this wonderful teacher, her students and us. We feel so honored to be a puzzle piece helping to fill gaps in God’s wonderful big puzzle of hope.

 

We also see Divine diversions happening all around us every day. Our sister in Christ has told me that in the past she always thought she knew the path God wanted her to take, but now she and her family are being led to do much more. They have developed a new, strong passion for outreach. It is also very rewarding to hear that they have been inspired by my husband’s efforts. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to hear that she feels called to raise up a generation of children like my husband, who will realize just what a blessing they can be to families in need. The response to this teacher’s assignment has been amazing. She told me that some of her students made extra bags to keep in their parents’ cars to hand out to homeless or those in need on the street, if and when they may cross paths with them. Some of the parents have told her that they are bringing this idea into their workplaces. What an exciting thing to witness, as we are watching God grow something so small into such a huge outpouring of love filled with so many blessings!

 

If you have ever seen homeless folks in your community and wondered how you could help, think of those thoughts as a “tug” on your heart by the Holy Spirit, encouraging you to get involved. Why not pickup the phone today and call or visit your local municipality. Ask about community centers or churches in your area that have outreach programs you may partner with to assist wherever you can. God is waiting for you to answer His call and be a part of His great puzzle to provide a small ray of hope to someone less fortunate today!

 

2 Thessalonians 1:11

“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power,”

(Bible, King James Version)

Blessings in Disguise

We never know just when God will use us for his glory as he moves us around in our daily travels. Have you experienced blessings in disguise? Read on to hear of one such blessing for children in our community. Today’s post is inspired by an event that happened earlier this year. As the Thanksgiving holiday is approaching, plans for this season’s outreach food drive have brought memories to light from an amazing Divine diversion this past Spring.

 

My husband and I were at church one Sunday morning finishing up on the equipment setup just before service was about to begin. He glanced out the window to see a car had pulled into the church parking lot with a flat tire. A woman and young girl stepped out from the car. My husband went out to see if he could assist them with the flat tire. Since the weather was a bit cold, he suggested that they come inside to stay warm and listen to the service while they waited. When they came into the sanctuary, I greeted them as new visitors, giving them a welcome card to fill out. They filled out the card, but were adamant that they could not stay for the services since they were on the way to take the young teen to work when they  experienced the flat tire, and would have to get her there as soon as possible.

 

Once the tire was changed, they were on their way. They had not returned to our church for the next upcoming weeks, leading me to believe we might not hear from them again. I do always continue, however, to keep an email listing of all visitors who attend our church services, and include them on our weekly mailing list to publish our service times and upcoming events.

 

Several months later, our church outreach group was planning to assist a local community organization with donating candy and filling eggs for their annual Easter Egg hunt. We made a commitment to assist them, but it seemed most of the group that typically responds to assist with outreach events, had prior commitments and would not be able to attend. There were only 3 definite commitments for assistance that day. This was concerning to me and I prayed one evening 3 days prior to the event that God would provide assistance and some schedules would free up so we could have help available to represent our church in a good way. The very next day I received an email from a Girl Scout troop leader who said her troop was looking for an opportunity to do outreach and they wanted to assist us with this event if it wasn’t too late to respond. She had seen my email requesting assistance on the weekly church events communication. She told me that she, too, had prayed to God for this to be an outreach event the girls could participate in for their benefit as well. It turns out that she is the person who had the flat tire that day and pulled off the road into our church parking lot. I was amazed at this Divine diversion that wasn’t obvious to us on that first day, but now had provided us a whole group of Girl Scouts to assist us with this event! All because of a flat tire! How blessed were we to show up to the community center with candy donations and 23 people to represent our church and assist, thanks to our Lord’s Divine diversion and this wonderful Girl Scout troop?! The troop leader has also told us to keep them informed of any upcoming events where they can partner with us to be assistance in the community. We are currently collecting for our fall food drive to help this community center and we will reach out to them to assist with sorting and packing of food donation bags for the center.

 

God is always orchestrating things so perfectly unbeknownst to us. He plans things at times so far in advance, that it is hard to wrap our minds around this grand scale and how amazingly He works His magic every day! We are honored to be called by Him on any given day, and pray daily for God to continue to use us to assist in partnering with others and coming together for His glory! Have you had such a Divine diversion where God has used you for his glory? Why not share it here in the comments to inspire and encourage others today.

Have a blessed day everyone!