Category Archives: Missions

Tornado Clean Up, Day #2

Today, we went back to the Diamond Creek Subdivision.  What was a gorgeous neighborhood filled with nice brick homes, a new elementary school, and beautiful lake now has parts that are trash-laden and literally covered with debris.

Our newest friends, also homeschoolers, joined us for some hours of work.  It was amazing to see just how much had been done in one day.  The community of Forney should be extremely proud of its’ people, volunteers, firemen, policemen, church congregations, businesses, etc.  I am amazed to see how many came from outside of the city.  They pick up trash, rake fields, deliver water and food, encourage each other, and all the while fighting the scorching sun, fire ants, nails, glass, and weeds.

Amidst burning skin, cuts, and sore legs the people still come and work.  And work.  And work.

It’s no easy chore.  Even picking up trash is exponentially difficult due to the small size and type of each item.  It is seriously like a war zone in places.  Fields are littered with debris — roof shingles and plywood that have been reduced to sizes averaging around three or four inches in diameter.

We worked with one crew to fill trash bags for a while, but when the bags were gone, we began scouring the field for larger items to place in one big pile.  Our thinking was that the crews would be able to more easily scoop up the debris if it were in a pile.

There has been so much work done, but there is SO much more to do!  Help is still seriously needed.

Even with clean up being done, I made the comment today that it would be a while before any children could play in the beautiful fields surrounding this neighborhood.  There is so much glass and nails it would be extremely risky.

The elementary school sustained roof, window, and air conditioning damage, but I hear it will be reopened next week.  Still, the children will surely have limited play time as there is no playground equipment anymore.  Even most all the fences that surround the schoolyard have been destroyed.  Again, I can only imagine what may still be in the grass next to the school.

Our little group of six worked until our bodies wouldn’t keep up with our will.  We passed out bottled waters, filled three or four bags of trash, and then made what we thought was a pretty big pile of materials in the field.

Unfortunately, the pile is in a big messy field.  It’s hard to see in these pictures because the grass is tall, but from a distance, the field looks relatively clean.  However, when you begin walking through it, there are huge boards, car pieces, metal pieces, housing materials, fence posts,….more than you can imagine just laying everywhere within that tall grass.  Add to that the millions of smaller roof shingles, insulation, paper, etc and it will be a while before it is all picked up.

All this mess from a very powerful EF-3 tornado, and yet I am still absolutely humbled by the fact that there was not one loss of life.

 A stop at the local ice cream parlor rejuvenated us.  There’s nothing like ice cream to keep a group of silly boys going!

(And going, and going, and going….lol!)

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Not Quite 14

“We can only use those 14 years and up.”

This is what we were told when we showed up at the local church where tornado clean up efforts were being coordinated.

I understand why they made that rule…….sort of.

Yes, I know there are dangers of glass, nails, debris and other safety issues that kids aren’t necessarily ready to face, however, we decided to head out to the field on our own and 5 hours later, this is what we learned.

8 and 10 year olds know how to…

pray,

pick up trash,

pick up someone’s garage door,

 

pick up insulation,

work hard,

and care.

 They may not be fourteen yet, but they now understand more about the force of an EF3 tornado.

They see why it’s a big deal to stay informed and have a safety plan during bad weather.  They now know better why we don’t stay in cars during a tornado.
They understand how trash and debris can affect our waters and wildlife.

They can especially appreciate God’s protection knowing there were no fatalities and very few injuries.

Hopefully the next time we hear sirens and enter our “safe room”, they will remember that God is bigger than any bad thing that could possibly come our way.

 They have a better understanding of how people can help one another…

by passing out bottled water,

receiving free food from community businesses,

and the discovery, saving, and return of somebody’s cherished friends.

No, they aren’t yet fourteen.  They aren’t adults.  They are eight and ten, and they were very valuable volunteers today.  They worked just as hard as any of the 500+ volunteers on site today and I believe they will teach their future children how important it is to help when help is needed.

8 and 10 going on 14, going on 41, going on 81“, as I see it.  One generation teaching another generation to care about people.  Learning to be kind, compassionate, and caring toward one another.

This is Christian Homeschooling 101, and we don’t even care that we didn’t get our book work done today!

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This Unusual Place

We find ourselves in an unusual place.

It’s a bit of a long story, but basically we sold our house with the long term hope of buying land in the country.  That’s something we’ve always wanted to do, and now especially with boys, we see the benefit of getting them somewhere they can shoot their BB guns without taking out a neighbor’s window!

Divinely timed, selling our house allowed us to spend the next year and a half helping our daughter and son-in-law who are in the Army and stationed in another state.  They needed someone to rent their house while serving our country, and rather than take a chance on a stranger destroying it, we decided to fill that role.  Now, we sit at their house and as time nears for their return, we wonder where we should go next.

Our first intuition is land!  We pour over Realtor.com like it’s a new book everyday.  We’ve already spent countless hours and days driving to listings that proved only to present their one good side for the internet picture.  We’ve emailed realtors and let friends know we are looking and hope that our “forever place” will present itself soon.

We’ve also considered staying where we are.  The neighborhood here is very nice and we would be near both of our grandbabies.  That in itself is sooooooo inviting!  I sure do love my grandbabies!

There is a practical draw to live near my husband’s office.  Gas is so expensive!   We are spending at least $500-600 per month for gas right now.  Commuting long term just doesn’t seem like a realistic financial possibility.

New and old friends make the choice hard as well!  Why can’t all of our friends just move next door to us wherever we end up?!

All these possibilities and thoughts also bring up more ideas:

  1. We could serve a year at a Christian camp.  A recent visit to a nearby camp made this an idea that would be both ministerial and serving.  I can think of lots of reasons why this would be a good idea, and might teach our whole family the importance of serving others.
  2. Instead of buying a house, we could buy an RV and travel.  Since we already homeschool, this would not change the boys’ education.  It might, in fact, actually enhance their studies!  There’s no better way to learn than “hands on”.  We did a smaller version of this in the past couple of years where we studied Daniel Boone and Pioneer explorations and then spent our vacation walking where he walked in the Cumberland Mountains.  There are a few situations that would need to be addressed for this option, mainly the need for my husband to stay employed!  I dream of the possibilities that his employer would allow him to work from the road, via internet capabilites and we could do this for a year?!  Hmmm…..
  3. We could go abroad……naaaah!  I’m not much on world travel, although I’m sure there are many beautiful places to see.  Still, with so much violence and problems going on worldwide and having to be responsible for the safety of my children, this does not seem like a good choice.  Besides…….it would definately be too far from my grandbabies!
  4. We could try and buy the smallest, cleanest house we could find and then finally, maybe, have extra each month to use for short travel excursions and fun times.  Our kids grow up so fast.  We’ve already seen the missed opportunities we had with our now grown daughters all because of debt and our insistence to chase the “American dream”.  Two incomes, loads of credit card debt, a nice big new house, but no time to spend as a family contributed to the realization that this is not how life is supposed to be!  Over the years, we have paid our debts (almost all of them), and have begun to learn how to live on little.  This has enabled me to stay home with the two boys and be available to spend time with and help our daughters and grandchildren.  We have learned it is much more fun to love on our families than just giving them “stuff”.  I’ve even thought of doing the tiny house thing, but then I remember how much I love to cook and all the appliances, dishes, and pans I’ll need 😉

So….here we sit, months away from a move to “Somewhere, USA” doing “something” that would make the rest of our days fulfilled.  Are there any other ideas for us out there in Blogdom?

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Acts, Chapter 2.

Verse 1

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”  Acts 2:1

There’s several things that jump out at me about this verse:  1)  The “Day of Pentecost”, 2) the words “fully come”, and 3) that they were all with “one accord”.

What was the “Day of Pentecost”?  From what I have read, it took place 50 days after the Feast of the Firsfruits.  According to J. Vernon McGee, the Feast of the Firstfruits speaks of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.   “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.  But each one is his own order:  Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.  Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.  The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.”  1 Corinthians 20-26 

The Passover speaks of the death of Jesus Christ:  “…For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.  Therefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  1Corinthians 5:7-8

The words “fully come”, again according to Dr. McGee, could be translated to mean “fulfilled”.  The Passover was fulfilled in the death of Jesus Christ.  The Feast of Firstfruits was fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Now, the Day of Pentecost, being “fully come” (aka fulfilled) means that it represented the fulfillment of something — the birth of the church, the day the church came into existence.

So, in order to understand the timeline…..

  1. Jesus was crucified.
  2. 3 days later, He was resurrected.
  3. For 40 days, He walked upon the earth, resurrected.  (Acts 1:3)
  4. He then ascended into heaven. (Acts. 1:9)
  5. 10 more days passed.
  6. On the 50th day (Pentecost) the church was born and the Holy Spirit arrived.

  Continue reading

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Act as Witnesses.

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  Acts. 1:8

Where is Jerusalem?  Our hometown, our community

Where is Samaria?  The “other side of the tracks”…people we don’t usually associate with on a day-to-day basis.

Where is the end of the earth?  I like the bible translation that says the “uttermost” part of the earth.  It is from one pole to the other pole….from east around the globe to the furthest west…every people, every nation, every tribe, every human on the earth — the uttermost furthest distance you can imagine on the planet earth.

I have never been one to skip to the ending of the book without reading through it first, but in this case, I want to point out something.  Having read several commentaries, it seems that the end of the book of Acts has no proper ending.  It ends with Paul in his own rented house in Rome. 

I just picture Paul, sitting at a table in his room, reading the scriptures and preparing for his next mission.  He is studying, and praying and interceding for the lost people that he, himself persecuted.  He hardly sleeps, is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and very attentive to God’s voice.

The camera pulls back, ending the scene with this image.  You just know that Paul is about to run out the door to his next adventure, when the ending credits starting scrolling and the symphony starts playing…

Ugh! …..want more?!  Yes!  Bring on the sequel!!!

If we watched a movie with this scene at the end of it, there would no doubt be a feeling of incompleteness.  It’s like one of those really, really, good movies that just leaves you hanging at the end!  

In this case, however, there is no proper ending.  Why?  Because the mission of God’s people is incomplete.  It is a continuing story.  We are to continue in the same work as Paul — into Judea, Samaria, and the Uttermost.

The work, as Acts 1:8 points out, is to be a witness of “Me”.  The “me” is Jesus Christ, but what message is it that He wants us to convey?  A witness of what? 

The research I have done tells me that He is speaking of the resurrection.  It is the center and heart of the message.  Without the resurrection, all work and miracles Jesus had performed would have been in vain.  Without renewed life, the testimonies and accounts of Jesus’ life would mean nothing.  He would have been just another man. 

However, He was not a man. 

“I and My Father are one.”  John 10:30

He was God, in flesh, who experienced all the guilt of our sins, endured a torcherous death, but then fulfilled the greatest feat no man has ever been able to do….he came back to life!  He was resurrected, just as the prophecies of old had described!  He is alive — even today!  Now THAT’s something to get excited about 🙂

We are to be witnesses of THAT GREAT MIRACLE…the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is the center and heart of the church’s message.

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Acts is a Verb.

The word, acts, is defined as:

  1. To play the part of; assume the dramatic role of.
  2. To perform on the stage
  3. To behave like or pose as; impersonate
  4. To behave as suitable for.

These definitions could assume a lot about the typical church goer.  Definition #1 often describes those who “play” church.  Unfortunately, many people make a point to go to church, but fail to truly connect.  They play the part of a dedicated Christian on worship day, they might even assume the dramatic role of a dedicated church member by fulfilling a needed task here or there.  However, “playing” church does not a church member make!  As for drama, there’s quite a bit of that evident in today’s churches as well.

Definition #2 could be compared to worship ministries in many churches.  Sadly, there are many men and women today who stand before the congregation, performing to the audience, rather than for God.  Speaking personally, I can relate with this one because there was a time in my life that God spoke abruptly and directly about leading worship.  Prior to that direction, the Sunday “specials” were only special to me, because I looked for the pat on the back or the praise from the congregation in order to boost my self confidence and reputation.  I realized that I wasn’t looking to lead others into worship toward God, but to show off the talents that God has so graciously given me.  What an eye opener it was for me!  In response to His direction, I forcefully pulled myself away from the music ministry all together until I could get the “big picture”.  Worship is for God, to be directed to God, and should be displayed in such a way as to only lead others to God.   Performances  should be left outside the church.

To impersonate, as definition #3 says, would say that the action is not real.  Need I say more?  God knows those who impersonate real Christianity.  He knows the very hearts of every man, woman, and child.  Appearing at church on Sunday, then living life without God during the week is nothing but impersonation.  I pray for all the impersonators who try to trick themselves into believing that they can do good for a day, and then share in eternal happiness.  They just don’t get it. 

Finally, definition #4 leads us to exhibit true Christianity in the church.  When we behave as suitable for a Christian, we are following the example of Christ.  The word, Christian, which even has His own name in it, means “Christ-like”.  We cannot BE a Christian without Christ.  A personal relationship with Him is the only way that we can be a true member of the church.  The only membership directory is that of the Lamb’s book of life.  The meeting place is the world in which He placed us.  The services are held 24/7, right in front of our faces where we encounter lost people day in and day out.  The mission is to tell them about Him.  When we are practicing these aspects of church membership, we are truly a church member.

Acts is a verb, requiring act-ion on the very ideas we proclaimed to believe when we said that we accepted Christ as Lord of our life.  It’s a verb.  What actions do you have planned for today?

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A Great day.

I had the blessing of having lunch with two wonderful ladies today.  These two elderly women have more energy and “spunk” that I think I will ever have!  They are active in their faith, and look forward to daily giving to others. 

Both widows and in their eighties, they call each other almost daily.  Laughing, and cutting up with each other, they share days together serving others.  They hand-make cards with scripture verses and deliver them to area hospitals where they are placed on patient food trays.  Once a week, they also volunteer at an area women’s shelter.

A recent phone conversation with one of them led to a discussion about the God inspired events happening at Oak Street.  Once I explained, there was no other option but to take them there so they could check it out! 

On the way, we picked up toilet paper and coffee.  Then, we picked up food donated by another lady at our church and took it all to the center.  One of these two ladies also brought some MRE’s (pre-packaged food usually provided for military men and women).  She had been praying that God would show her a place that could truly use them! 

It was so wonderful to see these ladies truly grasp ahold of the vision shared with them by the center’s director.  They are now so excited about the possibility of further support with this ministry.

God used His mighty hand to gently guide these two elderly women further into His service. 

And just think….I was there to see it! 

It’s been a great day!

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